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AN account of the Lives of the Queens of Prussia cannot 
fail to possess some interest for the English reader, independent 
of all merit of composition, at a moment when England is 
about to bestow the eldest of her royal daughters upon the 
Crown Prince, and, in all human probability, the future Sove- 
reign of that country. 

With the greater confidence, therefore, I now lay before the 
public the following " Memoirs of the Queens of Prussia;" 
the materials for which have in great part been selected from 
the memoirs of contemporary authors, the despatches of foreign 
ambassadors, &c. during a residence of some time in the 
dominions of the King of Prussia. And let me here offer my 
sincere thanks to all those who have contributed to aid me in 
my researches, or to lighten my labours by their kindness, 
during my sojourn in Germany. 

I must also here observe, that, as the object of this work is 
professedly the history of the Queens of Prussia, none of whom 
ever, even at a period when most of the chief States of Europe 
were ruled by female influence, had any share in the govern- 
ment, or interfered in political affairs, I have thought it more 
consonant with my subject to give only such outlines of con- 


temporary historical events, as were necessary for the clearer 
connection of my narrative, or the better development of cause 
and effect. 

Of the history of the Electresses of Brandenburg previous 
to the assumption of the regal title by that house, and of the 
character of the people to whose keeping we are about to 
entrust our Princess Royal, I proceed to draw a cursory sketch 
in my Introductory Chapter. 





PRUSSIA ........... 29 















"PRUSSIA/' says the < Jahrbuch ' for ]855, "maybe looked 
upon as a little Germany." And, comprising as it does within 
its boundaries samples of so great a variety of continental 
races, and districts of the most varied regions of Central 
Europe, from the fertile soil and picturesque mountains of 
Silesia, round by the mercantile coasts of the Baltic, to the 
barren, sandy plains of Westphalia, and the smiling, garden- 
like regions of the beautiful Rhine, the idea of an epitome of 
Germany does not seem misapplied to this kingdom. 

An Englishman, escaping from the hurry that life in London 
has become, to rush, with the impetus of its high pressure still 
urging him, at railroad speed over the Continent, is struck by 
the leisurely air which even business assumes in its towns. 
The Frenchman saunters through the streets of his capital, be- 
cause he has time to be amused by the way ; whilst the German, 
being neither under steam-pressure, nor trying to crowd three 
lives into one, as we do, has leisure to enjoy his pipe and his 

In the same manner, any one accustomed to do business only 
in England, is astonished at the slowness of the process in 
Germany ; at the difficulty of obtaining information ; in short, 
at the number of " circumlocution offices " upon which he 
stumbles. Nevertheless, he who has leisure to appreciate the 


absence of that spirit of emulation which in England besets all 
ranks, and is the destruction of so many amongst the middle 
and lower classes, feels it a haven where he may grow old re- 
spectably, and not rush into gray hairs with such irreverent 
haste as we English do now-a-days. 

Another thing, too, which is especially appreciated by the 
educated dependent, who in England has groaned an unwilling 
thrall to the monied despotism of the middle classes, is, that in 
Germany he is enfranchised, because the mind and not the 
money marks the social position of the man ; because the ques- 
tion there is not what a man has, but what he is. A position 
which seems somewhat Utopian to a person used only to the 
narrow circles of exclusion subdividing English society, but 
which is, nevertheless, fact. 

We find there but little of the attempt at style in point 
of dress, household attendants, equipage, &c., which charac- 
terizes so many English establishments. The German is con- 
tent to seem that which he is. 

Were I asked what was the prevailing characteristic of the 
Germans as a nation, I should say domesticity. Not that their 
houses are nearly so " comfortable " as ours, for although they 
have adopted our word " comfort," the thing signified is but 
little understood amongst them. 

But though the English idea of fireside happiness has no 
meaning in Germany, yet the German, as, surrounded by his 
family, he takes his coffee in the garden, and smokes while the 
ladies of the party knit, is as pleasant a picture of domestic 
tranquillity as one would wish to see.* 

As regards morality, the German standard is high. te There 
is no civilized people which is more moral, nor amongst whom 
the mean duration of life is longer."f So far the German in 

* The Germans smoke inveterately, all day long, cigar after cigar. The whole 
air of the towns is redolent of tobacco-smoke, an advantage if it could overpower 
the rival odour of the gutters. 

t Rougemont. 


his private and domestic relations. In his literary and scientific 
capacity, I need not remind my readers of the very large pro- 
portion of writers of eminence upon philosophy, science, and 
history, furnished by Germany. The language, pliable as it is, 
and capable of rendering with accuracy the nicest distinctions 
of scientific definition, or of becoming a vehicle for the lofty 
inspiration of the poet, affords ample facility for such minds as 
those of Goethe, Schiller, and Jean Paul to " wreak themselves 
on language " whilst Humboldt, Liebig, and Oken have made 
a torch of it, to light up the secret caverns of nature and the 
mysteries of science, for eyes not penetrating enough to pierce 
the darkness for themselves. Yet, whilst that structure of the 
language obtains, which places the active principle, often the 
copula itself at the end of the sentence, German can never be 
the first of living languages ; because it does not flash its pur- 
port clear into the mind at once, but produces its effect more 
gradually ; does its work by reasoning, rather than by the pho- 
tography of thought. (Perhaps this structure of the language 
may account for the German seldom being a passionate man 
he has time to reflect before he gets to the end of a sen- 
tence !) For the same cause, its writers are too diffuse ; its 
historians are too minutieux 3 its philosophers too apt to refine 
upon refinement. He who took a carpenter's foot-rule* to 
measure the length and breadth of one of Kant's sentences, 
might still arrive at the same result of so many feet by so many 
inches, with the sentences of some more recent writers. With 
regard to light literature, Germany has her novelists, although 
they are somewhat cumbrous and far less read than the trans- 
lated works of English and American writers of the same class. 
" Sam Weller's " sayings are quoted with an unintentional 
adoption of the paternal pronunciation of his patronymic. 
" Uncle Tom " shows his black face in every bookseller's 
window there as well as here. Eva and Topsy make one of the 
prettiest of the porcelain Licht-bilder commonly sold in the 

* Fraser's Magazine, March, 1857, article on Kemble's " State Papers." 

B 2 


shops, and even the " Song of Hiawatha " appears done into 
German as " Das Lied von Hiawatha " I 

It is characteristic of the Germans, whose humour is rather 
genial and kindly than sarcastic, that they have no satirist of 
eminence; and, to their credit be it spoken, few licentious 
writers. With regard to the female part of the community, 
there are few literary women amongst them. There are com- 
paratively few who write their own language with facility and 
elegance; probably because the German ladies devote them- 
selves too entirely to the cares of the household to have time 
for the cultivation of their literary tastes ; but they are, I can 
answer for it, right good wives and mothers, sisters, friends, and 

Perhaps nothing better illustrates German national character 
than German national music ; from the simple " Volkslieder," 
whose depth and tender pathos are never fully appreciated till 
they are heard from the lips of a German, accompanied by 
their own peculiar and singularly expressive melody, to the 
grand compositions of Beethoven, and the sublime strains of 
Handel all is singularly characteristic of a people with whom 
affection is the want of the heart, religion the necessity of the soul. 

But the Prussian, as a subject, is what more especially con- 
cerns us just now. In this respect he differs widely from the 
Englishman, who has a growl for every new measure of Govern- 
ment, and could always legislate far better than the Legislature. 
The German troubles himself but little about politics. One 
does not hear every little assemblage of men discussing the 
Prussian equivalent for "last night's debates/'* For his 
further character in this capacity, I quote the words of a very 
good book, which has been suffered to go out of print. t 

* Of course there is a good and sufficient reason why Prussian subjects should 
not openly express their opinions upon political affairs ; but there is also undoubt- 
edly far less natural inclination to question the proceedings of the powers that be 
amongst Germans than amongst Englishmen. 

i Rougemont, " Precis d' Ethnographic de Statistique et de Geog. Historique, 
ou Essai d'une G6ographie de 1'Homme." 


"There is no nation which is more heartily attached to its 
rulers than this, none to which obedience is less painful. The 
German nation, too, is the only one which has never stained the 
throne of its sovereigns with blood by means of assassinations 
or judicial murders." 

A very slight acquaintance with Prussian history is sufficient 
to afford abundant proof of the truth of this statement, as 
regards that part of Germany. The people which submitted 
like obedient children to the well-meant harshness of Frederic 
William I., aided Frederic II. unflaggingly with heart and 
hand during the long campaigns of that desperate struggle for 
existence, the Seven Years' War, looked with affectionate pity 
rather than contempt upon the kind-hearted, weak-headed 
Frederick William II., and rose as one man to right their 
injured and bereaved, but ever beloved sovereign Frederic 
William III., need no testimony but their own deeds to show 
what devotion their future monarchs may expect from them, and 
to justify the further statement of the same author, that the 
German character may be summed up in one word, " Love ! " 

I must now pass on to an outline of the early history of 
Prussia. The family which now occupies the throne traces 
back its origin to a very early period. Its head was that Count 
Tassilon who somewhere about the year 800 founded the Suabian 
house of Hohenzollern. The eleventh count of that family 
left two sons, Frederic, who continued the line of Hohenzollern, 
and Conrad, who about the year 1200 took the title of Bur- 
grave of Nuremberg. Frederic V., Burgrave of Nuremberg, 
having rendered services to the Emperor Charles IV., was by 
him made a prince of the empire. His two sons, according 
to the customs of the time, each succeeded to a share of his 
domains, and the elder, dying without posterity, his brother, 
Frederic VI., inherited the whole burgraviate, and ultimately 
became the first Elector of Brandenburg of the Hohenzollern 

This territory, the indomitable barbarity of whose inhabitants 


had opposed a bar even to Roman conquest, and afforded 
constant occupation to the arms of Charlemagne, first sub- 
mitted to a governor imposed by Henry the Fowler, in 927. 
From that time, until the above-mentioned Frederic V. of 
Nuremberg became its possessor, no less than nine races 
of Markgrafs (the Hohenzollern was the ninth) had possessed 
the sovereignty, all of whom, what with fighting with their 
rebellious subjects at home, and their turbulent neighbours 
abroad, besides occasionally selling a province or so when pressed 
for money, had their hands tolerably full. By this extraordi- 
nary means of sale the new Mark, and even the whole electorate 
itself, had changed hands several times. The Duke of Misnia 
bought it for 400,000 florins,* and resold it after a year's pos- 
session to the Emperor Sigismund ; and he, having plenty of oc- 
cupation of the kind already, did not feel himself in a position to 
cope with the mutinous nobility of the Marks, who had taken 
full advantage of the non-residence of their late sovereigns, to 
become as completely insubordinate as factious nobles usually 
did under such circumstances. He therefore appointed Frede- 
ric VI., Burgrave of Nuremberg, to be his governor in the 
electorate, and to subdue his rebellious subjects for him. 
Frederic having leagued himself with the dukes of Pomerania, 
encountered the rebel lords at Zossen, and defeated them : he 
turned his arms next on the dukes of Pomerania themselves, and 
gained a victory over them at Angermund, thus reuniting the 
Mark Uckeran, which they had usurped, to his territory. But 
the Emperor being displeased at his attempt to annex Saxony 
also to his dominions, he here voluntarily terminated his con- 
quests, after having received the investiture of the electorate, at 
the diet of Constance, in 1417. 

The electorate of Brandenburg at that time consisted of the 
old, middle, and new Marks, the Ucker Mark, and Pregnitz ; 
but the new Mark was still in the hands of the Teutonic knights. 

Frederic I., as we must now call him, was extremely 

* About 60, 000. 


fortunate in his conjugal relations. The first Electress of 
Brandenburg was the " fair Else of Bavaria/'* of whom the 
present Queen of Prussia is a namesake,, and a worthy repre- 
sentative. She was as good as she was fair : the sick, the 
oppressed, and the needy, fled to her for tendance, shelter, 
and relief. She was a mother to her people, and as a mother 
she was reverenced and beloved by them. 

The usual partition of estates took place at the death of 
Frederic I. ; but John the Alchymist, having been deprived by 
his father of his birthright, was replaced in the succession by his 
brother, the vigorous and noble-minded Frederic II. of the 
Iron Tooth, who refused the tendered crowns of Bohemia and 
Poland, rather than commit an injustice.f He made his sedi- 
tious cities feel the force of his iron fang by depriving them 
Berlin amongst others of their jurisdiction, while he carried 
on with no less vigour the system begun by his father, of de- 
pressing the too powerful nobility. The war commenced upon 
him by George Podiebrad, on account of Lusatia having volun- 
tarily surrendered itself to the magnanimous Iron Tooth, turned 
to his advantage and gained him fresh territories. He also 
redeemed the new Mark from the knights of the Teutonic 
Order, and took the additional titles of Duke of Pomerania 
and Mecklenburg, of Vandalia, Schwerin and Rostock. 

Frederic of the Iron Tooth abdicated in favour of his brother 
Albert Achilles, or Ulysses, as he was surnamed according to 
the custom of those days. This modern Achilles finally suc- 
ceeded in quieting the rebellious Nurembergers after eight 
battles. In justification of his title, it is said that he leaped 
alone from the walls into the town of Greiflenberg, and defended 

* German account of the marriage and entrance into Berlin of the present 
Queen of Prussia, published by subscription, 182 . 

f The Pope had offered the former to him in order to deprive George Podiebrad 
of it. The crown of Poland he also declined to accept, unless upon its refusal by 
Casimir, brother of the late King Ladislaus. Frederick the Great, in reference 
to this disinterested conduct, says, this prince should have been called the Mag- 
nanimous, instead of Dent de Fer. 


himself till his soldiers forced an entrance and came to his 
rescue. Besides being a great admirer of the theory of chivalry, 
he was so great also in the practice of arms, that he gained the 
prize in seventeen tournaments, and was never unhorsed in 
any. He was twice married ; first to the Princess Margaret of 
Baden, and secondly, to Ann of Saxony. He finally abdicated 
in favour of John Cicero, his son. John Cicero's eloquence, it 
is said, reconciled the three kings of Bohemia, Hungary, and 
Poland when they were disputing about the possession of Silesia 
and Lusatia; but his descendant, Frederic the Great, is of 
opinion that the 6000 horse by which he was accompanied 
might have added force to his arguments. He accorded freedom 
from taxation to the nobility and clergy. 

The name of his Electress was Margaret of Misnia. He left 
two sons, one of whom, Joachim Nestor, succeeded him; the 
other, the cardinal archbishop Albert of Mainz and Magde- 
burg, became the most formidable opponent of the reformation, 
then beginning in Germany. 

Joachim Nestor himself was also a staunch adherent of the 
papacy, but his wife, the Danish princess Elizabeth, was not 
only a Lutheran, but a great admirer and personal friend of 
Luther himself; her husband treated her with harshness on 
this account, and so unendurable did his persecutions become, 
that the Electress was obliged to escape by night, leaving her 
children behind her, to Torgau, the residence of her Protestant 
uncle, John of Saxony. Her husband's wrath waxed so hot at 
this desertion, that he threatened all sorts of fearful punish- 
ments if she fell again into his hands. However, his anger 
having undergone the cooling influence of time, he permitted 
her sons to visit her at her residence of Lichtenberg on the 
Elbe, where she had fixed her abode in order to be near her 
beloved friend and pastor Luther. She even once resided for 
three months in his house, in order yet more fully to enjoy the 
benefit of communion with him. She lived to a good old age, 
having survived her husband for twenty years. 



Scandalized at his wife's apostacy, Joachim Nestor before his 
death caused his son to take a solemn oath of adhesion to the 
orthodox faith. Joachim II. reflected for four years on the 
claims of his oath versus the claims of his judgment, which 
was on the side of the reformed doctrines, and as conscience 
acted as advocate on both sides, the new Elector was in sore 
perplexity ; his affection for his mother and her example, how- 
ever, probably turned the scale, for he became a Protestant. 

His first chaplain Agricola, called from his birth-place 
Meister Eisleben, was one of the proposers of the Interim of 
Augsburg, and was nicknamed by Luther his "Eislebener 
beer-brother;" on his death Joachim delivered the care of his 
conscience into the hands of Musculus, who had adopted that 
more significant title instead of his family name of Meusel ; he 
was a sturdy disputant, a defender of the Lutheran doctrine of 
justification by faith, and a very " powerful preacher" besides. 
A man of muscle also it appears that he needed to be, for we 
are told that one day, as he was preaching in the open air, three 
spirits dragged away the pulpit from under him ; he however, 
nothing daunted, caught hold of the branches of a tree over 
head and continued his sermon ! Joachim II. himself was 
extremely original, both in matters of religion and in other 
things. He embraced the views of his chaplain on the above- 
mentioned much-contested question of justification ; upon one 
occasion he summoned his court and clergy to hear his " testa- 
ment;" it so happened that Gottschalk Buchholzer, generally 
called only Gottschalk, one of the principal opponents of Mus- 
culus, was present ; the Elector, addressing himself to the 
ecclesiastics especially, began his speech thus : "I have 
hitherto often listened to your preaching, now it is your turn 
to listen to mine." He then declared his entire approval of 
the views of Musculus, and wound up his discourse in the fol- 
lowing terms : " By the Lord George ! I will stand by Mus- 
culus, I commend my soul to God, but yours, with your Gotts- 
chalkischen doctrines, to the devil." Gottschalk, says Vehse, 


died soon after this " electoral expectoration." Joachim II. was 
very strict in his administration of justice; robbers found no 
mercy at his hands, and culprits in matters of dress, which 
had then risen to an extravagant pitch of absurdity, little more: 
he set Musculus to write a book of " Warning and Exhorta- 
tion" to those who were led away by the " Order-and-honour- 
endangering-Hose-devil" of the times, and to enforce the 
warning, he caused three burgers' sons who had appeared in 
the " audacious," nether investments then in fashion, " mon- 
strous slashed breeches containing over a hundred ells of stuff,"* 
to be hung up in a great cage in a public place, with music to 
play before them all day. 

Despite his religious strictness, however, Joachim II. had 
his peculiar weaknesses, he was very fond of the good things 
of this world, and from sheer good nature allowed himself 
to fall into much extravagance.f Neither was he particularly 
faithful in his conjugal relations. He was twice married, first 
to Madeline, daughter of that great opponent of the reforma- 
tion, George of Saxony; and secondly, to Hedwig of Poland, 
who, having injured herself by a fall, was ever after obliged to 
walk with the aid of crutches. Despite the efforts of his 
skilful financier Matthias, and of his great minister Distel- 
meyer, " the eyes and the light of the Mark/' J the Elector 
managed to leave a debt of 2,600,000 thalers as a legacy to 
his successor; his death in 1571 was brought on by a cold, 
caught in a wolf-hunt, in which he had joined, despite his 
advanced age and the severity of the Christmas weather. 

John George was a far more zealous Lutheran than his father 
had been ; he continued to Distelmeyer his office as chancellor, 
but showed great severity to several of his father's favourites, 
in particular to Lippold the Jew, who had helped Joachim II. 

* Vehse. 

( Vehse makes the following extract from the letter of an ambassador, con- 
tained in the papers of Cardinal Granvelle, ' ( Si dice che questo Marchese in una 
dieta, spese 30,000 fiorini in vino." 

" Oculus et lumen Marchiae."- - Vehse. 


in his money difficulties, and who was now put to death with 
great cruelty. 

The dissensions between the Lutheran and Calvinistic parties 
had now reached such a height that terrible scandal was often 
cast by each side upon its own Christianity. The Lutherans 
looked upon Mahommedanism as a venial error compared with 
Calvinism, and the Calvinists returned the compliment.* A 
writer of the time says, " The priests so fought, scolded, and 
quarrelled that it was sin and shame. In one church they 
even began to fight with the candle-sticks, whilst those of 
another threw stones at each other in the market-place. f One 
of the most remarkable men of this time was Leonhard Thur- 
neysser, a Swiss by birth, who, after travelling in Europe, Asia, 
and Africa, had on his return, gained immense celebrity as a 
physician, anatomist, botanist, alchemist and judicial astrologer. 
The Elector consulted him on the health of his second wife, 
Sabina of Anspach, and Thurneysser afterwards settled at the 
Prussian court as " Leibmedicus." He there acquired immense 
wealth by means of the rich and powerful individuals who 
applied to him for horoscopes, talismans, amethyst-water, ruby, 
emerald and pearl tincture, oil of beauty, &c. &c. Even the 
Emperor Maximilian and Queen Elizabeth of England sent 
letters to him, and so great was the luxury in which he lived, 
that he could even afford to wear silk stockings every day, then 
a mark of great opulence. 

John George was thrice married, and was the father of 
twenty-three children. Sophia of Liegnitz died whilst he was 
still electoral prince, but Sabina of Anspach and Elizabeth of 
Anhalt were successively Electresses of Brandenburg. The two 
latter ladies were both of them great friends of Thurneysser, 
and used to visit and consult him upon all emergencies. 

John George was succeeded in 1596 by his eldest son 

* During the reign of John Sigisnmnd a book was printed by an ecclesiastic 
named Hoe, entitled " Better a Turk than a Calvinist." 
t Thurneysser ; see Vehse. 


Joachim Frederic. Like his father he was a zealous Lutheran > 
his first wife, Catherine of Custrin, was not only likewise 
firmly attached to those doctrines, but was a sincere Christian 
besides a conjunction by no means inevitable. She caused 
various books to be printed in aid of the cause of religion, and 
even composed a book of prayers herself; and though she 
embraced the doctrine of justification by faith, she by no 
means excluded good works from her practice. Her benevo- 
lence was profuse, but judicious. She was a " mother to the 
poor, a nurse to the sick." * It was she who founded the 
Castle Apotheke at Berlin, for the purpose of distributing 
medicine gratis to the poor, and who also established a great 
dairy in the suburb of Coin, which gave its name to the still 
existing " Molkenmarkt " of that quarter. This Electress, 
too, was a model of housewifery and hospitality. 

Whilst still electoral princess, and residing in Halle, her 
husband being administrator and Bishop of Magdeburg and 
Havelberg, she had become acquainted with Thurneysser; 
struck with admiration of his talents, she cultivated his friend- 
ship, and consulted him on all occasions, especially, when left 
bare of money by her profuse liberality, she applied to him to 
obtain her fresh supplies by the acceptance of bills, the sale of 
her jewels, &c. &c. With her husband's concurrence she 
built a laboratory for him at Halle, in order to ensure his more 
frequent visits to their court. Joachim Frederic's second 
Electress was Eleonore, second daughter of Albert Frederic, 
the imbecile Duke of Prussia, whose estates he administered ; 
Albert Frederic was the son of Albert of Brandenburg, the 
Grand Master of the Teutonic knights, who, having laid aside 
the habit of his order and become a Protestant, received in 
1525 the investiture of the duchy of Prussia from the hands 
of Sigismund King of Poland : Prussia having been tributary 
to that kingdom since the treaty of Thorn in 1466, had com- 
pleted the humiliation of the Teutonic order. 

* Vehse. 


The Princess Eleonore, by her marriage with the Elector 
Joachim Frederic, became, curiously enough, mother-in-law of 
her own elder sister Anna, who was the wife of that prince's 
son, John Sigismund. 

It was this marriage of John Sigismund with Anna, the 
eldest daughter of Albert Frederic, which added the duchy of 
Prussia to the possessions of the elder branch of the family of 
the Electors of Brandenburg, (Albert Frederic dying without 
male issue,) at the same time that it gave rise to the long-con- 
tinued disputes concerning the succession of Juliers and Berg, 
which was afterwards to afford the pretext for Frederic the 
Great's invasion of Silesia.* The mother of the present 
Electress Anna and of the Electress Dowager Eleonore of Bran- 
denburg, was Marie Eleonore, daughter of William, Duke of 
Cleves. She was the eldest of four sisters ; her brother dying 
without issue left his inheritance to her.f But when the suc- 
cession became open in 1609, the Pfalzgraf Wolfgang Wil- 
liam of Neuburg (son of her second sister Ann) ; the Elector 
of Saxony, to whose family the eventual succession had been 
promised by an imperial decree; and John Sigismund, all 
claimed it. The Elector of Brandenburg and the Duke of 
Neuburg, each thinking a part of this fertile territory better 
than the chance of none, were minded to come to an amicable 
partition. The Emperor Leopold, having interested views in 
the matter, favoured the idea ; but the Protestant princes of 
the Union, who saw his aim, opposed it, and placed John Sigis- 
mund at their head : whilst the Catholic princes, who had united 
themselves in the League, supported Wolfgang William. The 
Dutch and Henry IV. of France also took an active share in the 
dispute, but that monarch's death in 1610 stopped the imme- 
diate outbreak of war. This contest was the first smoke of those 
fermenting elements of discord, out of whose spontaneous 
combustion afterwards blazed forth the Thirty Years' War. 

John Sigismund once more tried to settle the affair amicably 

* Preuss, " Lebens Geschichte Friedrichs des Grossen." 
f "Mem. pour servir a Thist. de Brand." Fred. Great. 


this time by means of a matrimonial alliance ; but unfor- 
tunately, on the occasion of the Pfalzgraf's visit to arrange for 
his marriage with the Elector's daughter, the conviviality rose 
to a somewhat boisterous pitch, and the Elector gave his in- 
tended son-in-law a box on the ear, which effectually drove all 
matrimonial ideas, in that quarter, out of his head. The Pal- 
grave of Neuburg shortly afterwards married a Bavarian prin- 
cess, and went over to the Roman Catholic religion. 

The Elector John Sigismund, on his side had long beheld 
with disgust the excessive intolerance of the Lutherans towards 
the opposite party. Now, with a political motive namely, the 
hope of securing the continuance of assistance from the Dutch 
superadded, he went over to the " reformed," that is, German 
Calvinistic doctrines. The affair of the succession was at 
length temporarily settled by a division, John Sigismund ob- 
taining Cleves, Ravensberg, and Mark; and the Palgrave, 
Juliers, Berg, and Diisseldorf. 

The change in her husband's religious profession was highly 
repugnant to the wishes of the Electress Anna, who was both 
staunch in Lutheran doctrines and possessed of a decided will. 
She, it is said, even allowed it to be apparent that she did not 
disapprove of the open and somewhat violent expression of 
public opinion upon this unpopular step. This Electress appears 
to have interfered considerably in political measures during the 
succeeding reign of her weak-minded son George William. 
She raised difficulties with the Lutheran government of Prussia 
respecting his investiture into that duchy, which she wished to 
subvert to her younger son, John Sigismund. She also be- 
trothed one of her daughters, the fair Eleonora, to Gustavus 
Adolphus of Sweden, during George William's absence, and 
carried out the marriage, despite his declared opposition, on his 
return ; thus allying him, against his will, with the great oppo- 
nent of the Emperor of Germany, (on whose continued favour 
he believed his own and his country's existence to depend,)* and 

* He used frequently to say, " So bleibt der Kaiser, Kaiser, So bleibe ich und 
mein Sohn wohl Kurfurst, wenn ich an dem Kaiser halte." Vehse. 


plunging him into the most cruel perplexities. Besides this, 
she endeavoured to reanimate the Lutheran party in his capital, 
by introducing preachers of that persuasion, likewise during 
his absence : so that her final withdrawal to the court of her 
son-in-law Gustavus Adolphus, was a great relief to George 

It was on the death of the Elector John Sigismund, which 
took place in 1619, that the hereditary ghost of the Branden- 
burg family, the mysterious White Lady, made her first 
appearance. Accounts differ as to whose ghost the White 
Lady was, and why she could not rest quietly in the land of 
spirits. Some said she was the vengeful spirit of the fair and 
frail Anna von Sydow, the favourite of Joachim II., whom his 
successor had imprisoned for life in the castle of Spandau ; but 
such a visitation of ghostly vengeance of the sins of great 
grandfathers upon their great grandsons, seems particularly in- 
consistent with spiritual justice. Some called her Agnes, and 
some said she was Beatrix of Meran, who murdered her two 
children for mad and wicked love of Albert the Handsome of 
Nuremberg, an ancestor of the family ; but that lady lived a 
century earlier than he did,* therefore her ghost had no better 
reason for frightening the Brandenburgs than that of Anna 
von Sydow. Pollnitz says she was the ghost of an old woman 
whom Joachim II. turned out of her house in order to build 
upon the site. Whoever she was, nobody dreamed of doubting 
her visits, nor that she afterwards chose the year 40 in each 
century for her grand appearances. Nay, she was considered 
rather an honourable appendage and heirloom than otherwise, 
and all, even the remote branches of the house claimed a White 
Lady of their own, who, if she did not show herself before the 
death of any important member of the family, or before any 
disastrous event about to befall it, at least manifested her con- 
tinued and friendly remembrance, by making horrible and 
unearthly noises, shrieks, and screams. She was also apt to 

* Vehse. 


assert her right to frequent the premises of the family to whom 
she had attached herself, by very substantial arguments, if any 
one ventured to dispute the haunt with her. During the reign 
of the great Elector she appeared frequently. Upon one occa- 
sion she showed herself to his favourite, the Oberkammerer 
Burgsdorf, who greeted her in very uncomplimentary terms, 
and attempted to grapple with her, upon which she seized him 
by the throat and flung him down the flight of steps he was 
about to descend. Several white ladies appeared during King 
Frederick William I/s reign ; but he was incredulous, and 
on one occasion had a white lady who was caught whipped 
out of her white garments, when it appeared that a scullion 
had enacted the part. At another time a soldier, similarly 
caught in the fact, was made to " ride the wooden ass," clad in 
his ghostly array. 

We now come to the accession of George William, and to the 
outbreak of the Thirty Years' War. During this disastrous 
period the electorate of Brandenburg, owing to the weakness 
of its ruler and the treachery of his knavish minister Schwar- 
zenberg, became by turns the prey of either party. Tossed like 
a shuttlecock from the Emperor to the King of Sweden, and 
from the King of Sweden to the Emperor, according as the 
danger appeared more pressing on the one hand or the other, 
the feeble George William lost friends on the one side by his 
lukewarmness, whilst his indecision gained him no allies on the 
other. His family connections, too, were most unfortunate; he 
had married Elizabeth Charlotte of the Palatinate, sister of 
Frederic V. the unfortunate King of Bohemia, to whom he 
feared to afford a shelter in his dominions, lest he should draw 
upon himself the anger of the Emperor and the King of Poland, 
and incur the same fate as his two uncles, the Margrave John 
George of Jagerndorf, and the Administrator of Magdeburg. 

The Emperor's anger, as we have said, was a complete bug- 
bear to him ; what, then, was his dismay when Gustavus Adol- 
phus approached his capital, and, in his very castle itself, gave 


him the choice of his friendship or his enmity ! He sent his 
Electress to entertain the unwelcome guest,* while he and his 
councillors held hasty consultations, whose tendency it is not 
difficult to guess ; but this enforced alliance was only languidly 
maintained by George William, and his territory and subjects 
suffered fearfully from the faults of their sovereign. 

The fate of the fair town of Magdeburg, as with a deliverer 
almost, as it were, within hail, it fell into the savage hands of 
Tilly's ruthless soldiery, was an awful monument of George 
William's indecision, whilst, misled by his doubtful ally Saxony, 
he was hesitating whether to allow Gustavus Adolphus to pass 
the intervening river. 

Again the mediation of the Electress was had recourse 
to, and she was despatched with her ladies to the camp to 
mollify the anger of the hero at this needless and frightful 
waste of human life. 

Of the Electress herself but little is known. She had not 
much influence over the education of her son, who was separated 
from her in early life, when he was sent, as we have before seen, 
to Holland. After her husband's death she led a retired life at 
Crossen, seldom seeing her son and his wife. Wegfuhrer, 
in his Life of Louisa of Orange, says that, "but little either 
of good or evil" can be said about the Electress Elizabeth 
Charlotte, save that she gave an annual subscription to the 
College of Joachimsthal which the Elector Joachim II. had 
founded.f She died in 1660. 

It is a relief to turn from the contemplation of such a scene 
of vacillation and confusion as George William's reign presents, 
to the firm measures and beneficent administration of his suc- 
cessor Frederic William, subsequently known as the Great 
Elector, who came to the electorate in 1640. Fortunately for 
him, at the suggestion of Schwartzenberg, who, says Frederic 

* "Mem. pour servir." 

f* The Gymnasium of Joachimsthal was destroyed in 1636, and rebuilt by 
Frederic William and his consort Louisa, at Berlin. 



the Great, dreaded the power of his developing energies, he had 
been sent to Holland, where he received his education, a far 
more enlightened one than it would have been at home pro- 

On his father's death he found himself in the unenviable 
position of a "Prince, without being in possession of his 
dominions, an Elector without having the power/' * 

But Frederic William faced his difficulties manfully, and set 
to work with perseverance and energy, to repair the ravages made 
by the war in his dominions. To gain time for this, he made a 
truce for twenty years with the Swedes, and prevailed upon the 
Dutch to evacuate his Rhenish domains, of which they were 
then in possession. It appears that there was at one time an 
idea of a marriage between the Elector and the young Queen 
Christina of Sweden, but luckily, as Wegfiihrer remarks, it 
went no further, Oxenstiern the Swedish minister being opposed 
to the plan ; and that " strong-minded " lady indulged her 
vagaries elsewhere, instead of in Brandenburg. Frederic then 
seems for a time to have thought of one of the daughters 
(Sophia, future Electress of Hanover,) of Elizabeth of Bo- 
hemia, who was then residing at Rhenen. Finally, and hap- 
pily, however, he fixed upon the young Princess of Orange, and 
thus secured a partner whom he ever loved with devoted at- 
tachment, and whose loss he never entirely recovered. This 
lady was one of the best and purest of her sex. Hers was a 
character, such as one seldom finds in any but the compa- 
ratively untried and untempted paths of private life. 

Leading a life of the most saint-like purity and devotion, 
her piety by no means interfered with her duties either as 
consort of a great prince,t or as wife of a much-beloved 
husband ; whilst at the same time her household, to which in 

* " M6m. pour servir." 

t Leti says of her, ' ' The court was a terrestrial paradise, of which the 
Electress was the tree of life, whose angelic virtues and celestial perfections 
imparted life, mind and grace to all around." 


all its details she attended personally, was looked upon as an 
example of justly-blended economy and liberality by all the 
ladies of the electoral dominions. The account-books of all 
her household expenses were kept by her with a neatness and 
skill which would have done credit to a regular accountant. 
Even the minutiae of the linen-press and the kitchen met with 
their share of her attention, and sometimes even of her actual 
presence and direction, whilst the supper which awaited the 
Elector on his return from his long hunting excursions, was 
generally at least in part prepared by her hands. Although 
her health was always extremely delicate, she never failed to 
assemble her household to early prayers, nor to conduct the 
musical part of the service herself; her charity also was muni- 
ficent and punctually attended to; yet with all these occu- 
pations for her time, she never failed to secure some period in 
the day for the cultivation of her favourite accomplishment, 
music, in which she was no mean proficient. She was a 
poetess also ; her poetry was all of a devotional cast ; one of 
the best of her pieces is that beautiful hymn, " Jesus my Con- 
fidence," which in moments of deepest despondency never 
failed to send a gleam of comfort through the heart of her 
unfortunate namesake, Louisa of Mecklenburg Strelitz, whose 
history and character, as well as her untimely death, afford in 
so many respects a parallel to those of this ancestress of her 
husband's house. 

The death of her first child was a sore trial to the Electress 
Louisa, and though she resigned herself to what she regarded 
as a fatherly chastening, still she could not be either uncon- 
scious of, or indifferent to, the disappointment of her husband 
and of his people, when, after a lapse of some time, there 
seemed no further probability of her giving birth to an heir : 
this privation cost her many a mental conflict between her love, 
and what she considered her duty to her husband. At length, 
after much tearful and prayerful meditation on the subject, she 

fc c 2 


came to the resolution of demanding a separation, in order that 
he might marry again. 

Her husband, who looked upon her as the light of his 
existence, was astounded when she made the proposal to him, 
and vehemently rejected it, as might be expected, telling her 
that man had no right to put asunder those whom God had 
joined. Reassured and joyful, Louisa, now, like another 
Hannah, vowed a vow to the Lord to found a home for the 
homeless, in acknowledgment of His bounty, should He give 
her a man-child.* Her prayer was answered by the birth of 
the strong and healthy young Prince, Carl Emil. We may 
imagine the joy of both parents on this occasion, and the diffi- 
culty with which Louisa prevailed upon herself to allow her 
mother, who had remained with, and carefully tended her for 
several months before the birth of the child, to carry him back 
with her to Holland for the sake of his health. 

After this occurrence she resumed those active occupations, 
which, by the directions of her mother and her medical at- 
tendant, she had been obliged for some time to discontinue. 
Her health, it is to be feared, was weakened by the want of that 
self-indulgence which she could never be prevailed upon to allow 
herself. She accompanied her husband to Konigsberg during 
his war with Sweden, and it was there that Frederic, afterwards 
King of Prussia, first saw the light. After this period Louisa's 
health materially declined, and the birth of twins, which both 
died, in 1664, left her in a very weak and shattered state ; a 
journey was therefore undertaken to Holland,t for the purpose 
of trying the effect of her native air in restoring her to health ; 

* This vow Louisa was unable for several years to perform, owing to the 
exhausted state of the treasury during the subsequent time of war ; but she 
righteously bore it in mind, economised privately for it, and at last fulfilled it by 
founding an asylum for orphans at Bb'tzow, or Oranienburg, as it was afterwards 
called in honour of her. 

t The last use which she made of her influence with her husband was to pro- 
mote the cause of peace, by inducing him to mediate between England and Holland. 


and here, though much against her will, her mother prevailed 
upon Frederic William to leave her. She seemed to be better 
for a short time, but her constant cough and pain gave her 
significant warnings, which she at least understood, to set her 
house in order ; and she knew that that hour was approaching, 
for which she was strengthening herself, when she wrote in 
that beautiful prayer, which is still treasured as a relic of her, 
" Once I prayed for earthly blessings with hot tears, and Thou 
didst graciously hear me ; help me now to pray for that which 
Thou commandest me to pray for/' Her only wish was now 
to return to her husband and children. At last this desire 
became too urgent to be denied its gratification, and she set 
off; her illness assumed so alarming a character upon the road 
.that she was unable to proceed, and the Elector was sent for. 
Terrified by the news of her dangerous state, Frederic William 
flung aside all business and flew to her side. Her joy at seeing 
him, whom she feared she had parted with for the last time in 
this world, was affecting in the extreme; but her yearning 
wish was still " home, home." A hand-litter was accordingly 
constructed for her, and thus she was borne back to the home 
of her wedded love, which she was to quit no more alive. 
Even on her death-bed she showed her usual unselfish fore- 
thought, denying herself that little gratification of maternal 
love, a last embrace of her children, lest they might suffer from 
her disease, and contenting herself with taking a last, long, 
yearning look at her rosy, healthy, darling Carl Emil, and the 
younger Princes, Frederic and Louis. 

Her husband's grief was terrible. Eemembering in his 
distress the vow which Louisa had made, and the answer which 
had been vouchsafed to her prayer, he, too, made a solemn vow 
in writing, signed with his name and sealed with his seal, to 
found a house of refuge for the poor, and to endow it with 
6000 Thalers per annum, should God grant him a prolongation 
of his wife's life. But the decree had gone forth that it was time 
for Louisa to return to her Father's house in Heaven, and the 


last sad scene drew near ; yet sad it could scarcely be called, 
for her saint-like faith and peace had so calmed the minds of 
all her attendants, and so stilled even the anguish of her hus- 
band, that not a sob was heard in the stillness of that chamber 
where Louisa's stainless soul was quitting its earthly tenement. 
She lay for a long, long time as if asleep. At last some one 
suggested that her sleep was the sleep of death. Her husband 
seized her hand convulsively at the thought; his grasp was 
faintly but distinctly returned, thrice ; that was the last sign 
which she gave, at once of life and of that enduring love, 
which, surviving the grave, was perhaps, as a guardian spirit, 
to guide her beloved through that path of life which her 
departure had left so gloomy, until it should finally hail with 
celestial joy the moment of their re-union in the world of 

It was long before Frederic William in any measure reco- 
vered the shock of Louisa's death. Besides the blank left by 
the absence of her companionship and sympathy, he had used 
himself to rely upon her opinion, not only in religious matters, 
but also upon many an emergency of state. It is said that he 
used frequently to leave the council table to consult the clear 
and unbiassed judgment of his wife, and that after her death 
he used in moments of perplexity to stand before her picture, 
exclaiming sadly, " Oh, Louisa, Louisa, how sorely do I miss 
thee ! " And still more sorely was he to feel that his loss was 
an irreparable one, when the inadequacy of the substitute 
whom he selected to occupy her place became apparent. 

Oppressed by the loneliness of his once cheerful home, and 
anxious to supply to his children the want of a mother's aifection 
and care, he was induced to select in second wedlock, the 
widowed, and no longer very young, Dorothea of Holstein 
Gliicksburg,* hoping that, from her suitability of age, she might 
better supply the wants of his family and household than a 

* She was the widow of Christian Ludwig of Brunswick Liineburg Zelle. 


younger lady. But in this he was unhappily deceived. Dorothea 
was comely enough in person ; but the qualities of her heart 
and mind did not answer to those of her appearance ; she was 
worldly, grasping, and ambitious; and her sordid views and 
mean actions greatly disgusted the people, in whose minds the 
remembrance of the saintly Louisa still lingered, surrounded 
with a holy radiance, and from the walls of whose homes her 
gentle features still smiled in many a portrait. The young 
princes, too, had cause to rue the day when their father brought 
a step-mother to his house ; but, as I shall have occasion to 
allude to the Electress Dorothea again in the course of the 
ensuing narrative, I will here break off this sketch of the early 
history of the house, merely making a few remarks upon the 
.different phases which may be remarked, both in the political 
and moral history of Brandenburg Prussia. 

Vehse, in the Introduction to his " Prussian Court," divides 
its history into three periods. The first, dating from the 
Reformation, he designates the " Mediseval-Theologico-Barba- 
rous" period ; the second, including the Thirty Years' War and 
the northern campaigns, the "partly French-gallant, partly 
military-absolute ;" and the third, from the reign of Frederic 
the Great, the period of " Enlightenment ;" and with this 
division, the startling changes in the manners and morals of the 
Prussian Court, which will be remarked in the course of the 
following pages, will be found nearly to coincide. 

Thus, in the times succeeding the Reformation, we find ex- 
treme simplicity of manners and life pervading even the im- 
mediate precincts of the Court. When Philip Hainhofer 
visited Berlin, during the reign of the Elector John Sigismund, 
he remarks that the Electress Anna allowed her children to 
appear in very mean and ordinary clothing, saying that they 
were known by all to be of princely birth, and that " virtue 
and the fear of God were better ornaments for them than mere 
apparel." Again, we find the Electresscs of Brandenburg at- 
tending to the affairs of the menage, with as much assiduity as 


the wife of any private gentleman, of moderate fortune, could 
now do. 

The Electress Louisa of Brandenburg, as we have seen, was 
an adept in the mysteries of cooking, as well as in other 
domestic matters ; and even so late as the reign of King Frederic 
William I., a yearly income of 80,000 Thalers* was assigned to 
his Queen Sophia Dorothea, on the express stipulation that 
she should provide clothing and linen for the whole family, in- 
cluding the king himself, who, say the minute historians of the 
time, chose to have his shirts cut and sewed according to a 
fashion of his own; whilst Frederic the Great, who after his 
mother's death discarded all female interference, was reduced 
to a very tattered and destitute condition in point of linen. 

With this primitive simplicity of the mode of life, was almost 
necessarily combined a vast amount of coarseness, ignorance 
and superstition. Manners and speech were equally rough and 
uncouth, and the quasi society of the day was disfigured by the 
odious vice of deep and sottish drinking. Nevertheless, under 
the reigns of the two first kings of Prussia, the rules of 
morality were otherwise very strictly observed, at least, in 
externals ; and the utmost deference and respect were paid to 
religion. But enlightenment and civilization were making rapid 
strides in all the principal European States ; and with them, 
hand-in-hand, came their too frequent attendants, infidelity and 

Already the French capital had established that autocracy of 
taste and fashion over the rest of the European world, which it 
has ever since maintained. In Berlin, from causes which will 
be noticed as they occur, this ascendancy of French taste over 
the national want of it, asserted itself in an extraordinary 
degree. The simple German jackdaws imagined, that, by 
adopting a few of that, gay bird's cast feathers, they should 
become veritable peacocks, and strutted miserable, ragged 
hybrids, neither German nor French. 
* 12,000?. sterling. 


So violent, at one time, was this Gallic mania, that one lady, 
we are told, even sent to her agent des modes in Paris to pro- 
cure her a young and handsome French husband, and Frederic 
the Great congratulates himself and Prussia on the failure of 
an experiment which might otherwise have reduced the neglected 
male population of Berlin to another rape of the Sabines ! 

Meantime in Prussia, as in England, during the reigns of 
our first Norman kings, French became the language of polite 
life. The mother tongue, with all its stores of rude opulence, 
an unwrought mine of goodly ore, was laid aside, as only fit to 
express the peasant's homely meaning, or to give utterance to 
his simple prayer ; while the gay lordling of the Court was 
content to lisp, with barbarous accent, the borrowed verbiage of 
a foreign tongue, whose barren superlatives had no power to 
convey one tithe of the meaning of the deep and honest 
German heart. 

That strictness of morality and of religious observances, 
which we have remarked upon as distinguishing the reigns of 
Frederic I. and Frederic "William I., under the godless govern- 
ment of Frederic the Great was not only relaxed, but suddenly 
and altogether dissolved. The King whom the people loved, 
the philosopher whom they admired, the hero whom they 
deified, openly scoffed at religion, and declared that, in his 
dominions, every man was free to erect his own standard of 
morality. In the pride of his own strength, he forgot that the 
multitude must have some great mainstay to which to cling, 
some common standard round which to rally, if virtue and 
order are to exist amongst them, even in name. 

Ruthlessly then, by his own example, did he fling down the 
mainstay of religion; wantonly did he trample on that standard 
of morality, which his own passions were either too cold or too 
well regulated to require ; whilst, by doing so, he rent asunder 
all those bonds of social order which are dependent upon godli- 
ness and virtue. 

For a moment, the people were stunned by the fall of all 


they were accustomed to venerate ; bewildered by the recoil of 
the tense cords of discipline thus suddenly snapped asunder, 
and then, mad licence ran riot through all ranks. 

Sloth, luxury and vice brought enervation, poverty and 
disease in their train ; and Frederick the Great, towards the 
close of his reign, stood a dismayed and perplexed spectator of 
the consequences of his own rash and unholy presumption. 

During the reign of his successor, all right feeling was at its 
lowest ebb, and even decency itself was laughed to scorn ; 
Malmesbury, in his Despatches, thus depicts the period closely 
preceding the death of the great Frederic. " Berlin is a town, 
where, if fortis may be translated honest, there is neither l vir 
fortis nee foemina casta/ a total corruption of morals reigns 
throughout both sexes, joined to penuriousness, caused partly 
by the oppression of his present Majesty, and partly by the 
expensive ideas they received from his grandfather ; thus con- 
stituting the worst of human character." 

Strangely enough, in the midst of the materialism and sen- 
suality which debased this period of Prussian history, supersti- 
tion and mysticism climbed upon the ruins of religion, and 
built themselves a fantastic temple from the debris of the 
stately pile; yet even the gibberings of these wan spectres of 
the truth answered a salutary end, in that they directed men's 
minds towards the great imperishable substance of which they 
were the shadows, and thus prepared a faint track for the social 
and religious reform of the next reign, when, beneath the fair 
influence of the gentle, yet heroic queen, and her upright, God- 
fearing husband, the foully-sullied tissue of the national 
morality should 

' ' Like the stain' d web whitening in the sun, 

Grow pure by being purely shone upon." 

And when the diseased constitution of social and domestic life, 
healed of its plague by the purifying influence of misfortune, 
should rcassume its healthy, normal condition, and be once more 
the pride and happiness of an honourable and munificent citi* ** 


zcnhood ; whilst from that sex whose corruption is the worst 
symptom of a nation's decay, and who had been so lately stig- 
matized as " harpies "* of the vilest description, should go forth 
full many a noble and devoted lady, the prototypes of our own 
Miss Nightingale, who should account it a privilege to dress 
with their own white hands the wounds of the common soldier, 
received in doing manful battle for the rights of the father- 

With these remarks I conclude the short outline of the 
Prussian history and people, which I have thought it necessary 
to give, before commencing a more detailed account of the 
lives of the Prussian Queens. 

* Malmesbury's Despatches. 




RARELY, indeed, amongst the crowned dwellers of the world's 
high places, does the pen of the historian find a character upon 
which to dwell with so much complacency as upon that of 
Sophia Charlotte, the first, equally well known as the " philo- 
sophical/' or the " beautiful"* Queen of Prussia, the second 
wife of Frederic III., Elector of Brandenburg, afterwards King 
of Prussia. 

To the English reader, the interest attaching to her is en- 
hanced, by the fact, that she was descended from one of the 
royal houses of England, the unfortunate race of Stuart ; 
although upon that branch of the family of which she was a 
member, fortune, tired of persecuting, seems to have lavished 
her gifts with a prodigal hand. 

Although, no doubt, the generality of my readers are well 
acquainted with her family connections, yet it may be well, 
before beginning a memoir of the life of Sophia Charlotte, to 
take a rapid retrospective glance at the period when the history 
of her house diverges from that of England. 

Elizabeth, daughter of James I. of England, married Frede- 
ric V. of Simmern, Elector Palatine, who, it is needless to state, 
was elected to the throne of Bohemia ; her decided and ambi- 
tious character no doubt greatly influenced her more timid 

* Ertnan says in his dedication of his " Mem. pour servir a la Vie de la Reine 
Sophie Charlotte," to Louisa of Mecklenburg Strelitz, Queen of Frederic William 
the Third, " On ne pouvra pour 1'avenir la reconnaitre a la seule denomination de 
' la belle reine' qui jusqu'ici suffisait pour la designer." 


husband in his acceptance of the royal dignity, although upon 
the authority of her declaration, that, " if he had not sufficient 
self-reliance to accept a crown, he should not have wedded the 
daughter of a king/" her grand-daughter, the Duchess of 
Orleans, casts a doubt. This Princess, with far more than her 
father's talent and strength of mind, inherited his love of 
learning to its fullest extent; a linguist, equally conversant 
with the languages of ancient and modern times, she had 
even ventured into the more abstruse regions of philosophy, and 
her acquirements are described as fitted to adorn a man, so 
varied and so solid was her learning. 

She followed her husband, after his fall, into Holland, where 
he found a refuge at the Court of Maurice, Prince of Orange, 
and where, until his death in 1628, vain hopes of recovering 
his lost possessions still flattered the exiled prince. His widow, 
still called Elizabeth of Bohemia, during her residence first at 
the Hague, and afterwards at Ehenen in the province of 
Utrecht, devoted herself assiduously to the education of her 
daughters, upon whom as might be expected from the vehe- 
mence of her character and the strength of her passions 
her care was more judiciously exerted with regard to intel- 
lectual, than moral training. Wherever she resided she 
speedily formed around her a circle into which the charm of 
her intellect attracted much of the talent and the learning 
of the day; yet, after the reinstatement of her son Charles 
as Elector Palatine, we find her, with her ruling passions, a 
restless ambition, and craving for personal power, still destined 
to remain unsatisfied, once more in London, where she died 
in 1662. 

Of the thirteen children who were the fruits of her union 
with the unfortunate Frederic, I shall only notice those who 
were distinguished by character or position. The eldest son 
was drowned on the coast of Holland; the second, as we 
have seen, became Elector Palatine; the third, Edward, who 
as well as several of his brothers, was obliged to seek a main- 


tenance in a foreign service, settled in France, where he 
embraced the Roman Catholic religion. The gallant Prince 
Rupert we find maintaining the cause of his house in the civil 
wars in England, whilst one of his brothers sat in the republi- 
can parliament. Philip fell in battle at the age of twenty-three 
years. There were four daughters, the character of the eldest 
of whom, Elizabeth, requires a somewhat longer notice. Endowed 
with more than her mother's intellectual gifts, but with little 
of her ambition, her sole passion and pursuit was knowledge; 
whilst still in her childhood she was acquainted with six differ- 
ent languages ; and the literature, oratory, and poetry of these 
not sufficing for the increasing demands of her mental avidity 
in maturer years, she eagerly embraced the philosophy of 
Descartes, (then entering upon the zenith of his celebrity,) 
and thus excited the jealousy of the masculine Christina of 
Sweden, who could not tolerate the philosopher's expressed 
admiration of his fair disciple's talents, nor the pure and 
elevated intercourse and friendship which subsisted between 
them. Did space permit, I might dwell at far greater length 
on the character of this gifted lady, who, having fallen under 
her mother's displeasure, and innocently incurred her suspi- 
cions of being privy to her brother Philip's designs against 
the favourite L'Epinay, was discarded by her, and, after various 
wanderings, at length found a refuge, and leisure for the 
full enjoyment of her literary pursuits, as Abbess of Herford 
in Westphalia. Louisa Hollandina, the second daughter, 
sought the protection of Louis XIV., and embracing the 
Roman Catholic faith at the same time with her younger 
brother Edward, became Abbess of Maubuisson, and during 
the latter part of her life was as much famed for her austerities, 
as she had been for the gallantry of her youth. 

The third, Henrietta Maria, married Sigismund Ragoczy, 
Prince of Transylvania. The fourth was Sophia, in whose 
character were happily blended the opposite tendencies of this 
richly-gifted race, in whom the strong passions of the one 


part of her family were tempered down into a healthy vi- 
vacity and innocent love of pleasure, whilst the undue intel- 
lectual excitement of the other, in her, became only the 
legitimate activity of a well-balanced mind. Chevreau, speak- 
ing of her in common with her sisters, says that "no finer 
minds, and no more deeply-learned persons than these, were to 
be found." 

Her attractions made a deep impression upon Ferdinand, 
King of Home, brother of Leopold, afterwards emperor; but 
the untimely death of the suitor prevented the marriage 
taking place, and in 1568 Sophia became the wife of Prince 
Ernest Augustus of Hanover, the youngest of the four brothers 
of that family. His father and uncles had in youth made the 
singular compact, that to maintain the position of their house, 
only one of their number should marry, and that one should 
be decided by lot. The lot fell upon George, the sixth brother, 
who consequently married, and became the father of Ernest 
Augustus ; and so well did the other brothers maintain their 
agreement, that Achmet I. said it would repay the journey only 
to see them.* It was in consequence of this compact that 
Ernest Augustus became, subsequently, Duke of Hanover. He 
was pleasing in person, generous and kind in his various rela- 
tions, and brave in his personal character. In 1662 he was 
invested with the ecclesiastical principality (Fiirstbisthum) of 
Osnabruek, agreeably to the peculiar conditions of the treaty 
of Westphalia, by which it was stipulated that a Roman 
Catholic and a Protestant Bishop should alternately hold pos- 
session of the see, and that the latter should always be a prince 
of the House of Hanover. 

Although at the time of their marriage neither Ernest 
Augustus nor Sophia had any great expectations, indeed fifty 
prior claims are said to have intervened between the latter and 
the throne of her ancestors, yet he, in course of time, became 
duke, and subsequently Elector of Hanover ; whilst Sophia was 
* " The Georgian Era." 


ultimately called to the succession of the throne of England, 
and had she survived but a few months longer, her name would 
have stood enrolled amidst the list of the sovereigns of our 

The first child of this union was George I. of England, the 
fourth was Sophia Charlotte, the future Queen of Prussia, the 
subject of this memoir. She was born at the Castle of Iburg, 
in the diocese of Osnabruck, on the 10th of October, 1668. 
Upon this, her bnly daughter, Sophia lavished the utmost ten- 
derness of a mother's heart, and delightedly occupied herself 
in forming the mind of her beautiful child, and storing it with 
the first seeds of that rich and abundant knowledge which was 
afterwards to render her the admiration of Europe. And very 
amply was her maternal solicitude repaid by the tender and 
life-long affection of her daughter, whom it is pleasant to find 
in after life, during her frequent visits to Hanover, escaping 
from the tiresome ceremonial of her own Court, to take refuge 
in her mother's loving arms, and in the unrestrained freedom 
of her early home. Sophia's choice of a governess for her 
young daughter was justified by her own intimate knowledge 
of, and friendship for the Frau von Harling, to whose charge she 
had already committed the education of her niece Elizabeth 
Charlotte (who had been entrusted by her father, the Elector 
Charles Louis, to his sister's care, and who in 1671 became 
Duchess of Orleans). Aided by this lady Sophia proceeded to 
carry out a system of education, in the course of which, besides 
French, the young Princess was instructed in English and 
Latin, and also in music, for which she had a passionate love, 
and in which she afterwards excelled both as a performer and 
a composer. Even as a child, her eager thirst for knowledge, 
and the germ of her future tendency to philosophical research, 
was shown by her earnest inquiries into the nature and causes 
of things, a peculiarity which still marked her mind in its 
maturity, when we find Leibnitz reproaching her with her wish 
to know the " Pourquoi du pourquoi." The happiest part of 


Sophia Charlotte's life, her carefully and lovingly-guarded 
childhood and early youth, passed but too rapidly amidst the 
pleasant gardens of Herrenhausen, her mother's residence. 

In 1679 Ernest Augustus, by the death of his brother, was 
unexpectedly called to the succession of the duchy of Hanover, 
and from this period his Court became one of far greater pre- 
tensions than heretofore. By virtue of this inheritance also, 
the celebrated Leibnitz became his subject, an acquisition in 
itself invaluable to the then Court of Hanover, and more espe- 
cially so to the young Princess, whose rapidly developing powers 
were still further stimulated by her intercourse with this great 

After the peace of Nimeguen, in the year 1680, Ernest 
Augustus, accompanied by his wife and daughter, made a 
journey to Italy, to be present at the carnival at Venice. The 
effect of this visit to a land, so rich in objects of art and 
classical interest, upon a mind like that of Sophia Charlotte, 
may be easily conceived; it refined her taste, and matured 
her judgment in matters of art, and fostered the love of music 
already so strong in her. The subsequent residence of the 
Abbate Hortensius Mauro at her father's Court maintained in 
her mind the taste for the fine arts thus engendered, 

In the summer of 1681, at the baths of Pyrmont, took 
place her first meeting with Frederic, electoral Prince of 
Brandenburg, who had brought thither his wife, Elizabeth 
Christina of Hesse Cassel, for the benefit of her health, which 
was then in a declining state. Even then it appears that 
Frederic was struck with the beauty and rising talent of the 
young Princess of Hanover. 

In the winter of 1682 she visited Berlin with her parents, 
at the invitation of the great Elector, whom policy, as well as 
family connections, led to keep on good terms with the house 
of Brunswick. 

In 1683 took place the journey of Sophia and her daughter 
to France, whither the former's affectionate attachment to her 


sister, the Abbess of Maubuisson, and her nieces, the Duchess 
of Orleans and the Princess of Conde, (daughter of her brother 
Edward and the Princess of Gonzaga,) had long attracted her; 
and the year which they spent at the French Court was passed 
in the fullest enjoyment of the resumption of these family ties. 

The Duchess of Orleans, who, proud of her German origin, 
and still speaking and writing her German mother tongue, 
appears, amidst the shameless immorality of the French Court, 
to have led a life of unswerving rectitude, though her letters 
partake but too strongly of the licence of the age, gives so 
naive a description of her own personal appearance that I cannot 
here do better than quote it. "I cannot fail to be very ugly ; I 
have little eyes, a short, thick nose, long thin lips, great hang- 
ing cheeks, arid a large face; yet I am of very small stature, 
short and fat : sum total, I am a little fright. If I had not a 
good heart no one could endure me. To know whether my 
eyes give promise of esprit, it would be necessary to examine 
them with a microscope, or spectacles, otherwise it would be 
difficult to judge." She also, together with some rather start- 
ling anecdotes, furnishes a few traits of the character of the 
Abbess of Maubuisson. " She was amiable and agreeable to 
the highest degree ; I was never weary whilst with her. I 
asked her how she could tolerate the monastic life. She 
answered, laughing, ' I only speak to the nuns to give them 
my orders/ She had a deaf nun in her room in order to pre- 
vent the necessity of speaking. She said that having always 
liked a country life, she could now quite fancy herself a country 
girl. ( But,' asked I, ' how about getting up in the night to 
go into the church ? ' She answered with a smile that ' Painters 
use the shadows to throw out the lights of their pictures/ 
This lady was herself a painter of no mean order-; in her 
seventy-seventh year she painted the Golden Calf of Poussin, 
for her sister Sophia. She used to present her pictures to 
her own abbey and the churches in the neighbourhood. 

At the age of eighty she could still see to read the 

D 2 



smallest print without spectacles, and had " all her teeth, 
though worn out, in her head." She died in 1709, aged 

The Court of France in its then existing state was, perhaps, 
the vilest sink of iniquity in the world ; yet hither it was the 
fashion to send the ripening youth of Germany to form their 
manners and their taste, and even Sophia of Hanover did 
not hesitate to expose the fresh mind of her young daughter 
to the influence of this polluted atmosphere ; fortunately the 
virgin soil thus hazarded was too pure for the growth of the 
rank weeds of French fashionable vice, and Sophia Charlotte re- 
turned to Hanover uncontaminated by the taint of evil example. 
Nevertheless, this sojourn at the French Court gave the young 
Princess a decided preference for the apparent refinement and the 
polish, superficial though it might be, of the French manners 
and language, and caused her to hail with delight the society of 
French refugees which greeted her on her arrival at Berlin. 
Her beauty, wit, and freshness seem to have created quite a 
sensation among the blase courtiers of Versailles ; Louis XIV. 
himself was delighted with her, and expressed his wish to 
provide her with a French husband ; Pollnitz and Erman say 
that the Dauphin was to have been the husband in question, 
but as the Dauphiness was then living, and did not die until 
1690, that could scarcely have been the case; this also makes 
it unnecessary that the journey already mentioned to the 
carnival at Venice should have been undertaken by Ernest 
Augustus, as the former states, with the kind intention of con- 
soling his wife and daughter for the disappointment of their 
French matrimonial views. It is said that Frederic the Great 
supposed the Duke of Burgundy, the second Dauphin, to have 
been the destined husband ; but it seems more likely that no par- 
ticular person was fixed upon, although there is no reason to 
doubt that both mother and daughter would have favoured a 
French alliance; the plan was however, probably on political 
grounds, suffered to drop. 


In the spring of the year 1684 Sophia and her daughter 
returned to Hanover, and Ernest Augustus, but this time unac- 
companied by the fair companions of his former journey, made 
another visit to Italy, having engaged to assist in supplying 
money to defray the expenses of a war in which Venice had 
just engaged with the Turks ; it was possibly owing to the 
absence of his former safeguard that he spent all the money 
he had destined for that purpose in magnificent entertainments, 
especially musical ones ; but as there is no evil without its 
concomitant good, so the Italian Opera, which his prudent 
minister forthwith established at Hanover, to prevent the 
recurrence of foreign temptations of the kind, may possibly be 
thus regarded. 

Sophia Charlotte's matrimonial prospects began now to 
form a subject of serious discussion between her parents, and 
Frederic, the electoral Prince of Brandenburg, having recently 
become a widower, policy and family connections, as is but too 
frequently the case in other than royal marriages, formed an 
overbalancing weight in their deliberations. Even the Duchess 
Sophia, though the Prince was in no respect calculated for the 
husband of her beautiful and talented daughter, and though 
loving her child intensely as we have seen, thought the match 
most desirable. Accordingly, when Otto von Grote, the Hano- 
verian Ambassador at Berlin, returned to negotiate the marriage, 
the Prussian proposals were well received. 

In vain did Frederic's stepmother, the Electress Dorothea of 
Holstein Gliicksburg interpose her usual mischievous inter- 
ference ; the electoral Prince arrived at Hanover in September, 
1684, his father, the great Elector, being detained at Berlin 
by a fit of gout. The betrothal of the young couple speedily 
followed. I believe it was during the festivities attendant upon 
this occasion that a ring worn by Frederic in memory of his 
deceased wife, with the device of clasped hands and the motto, 
" A jamais," suddenly broke, which was looked upon as an 
omen that this union likewise was to be of short duration. 


I will now pause to give a description of the bride and 
bridegroom, as we naturally feel more at home with a character, 
the fashion of whose outward covering is known to us. 

The Princess Sophia Charlotte was of the middle height, 
her complexion dazzlingly fair ; she had large, soft, blue eyes, 
" eyebrows that seemed drawn by the compass," a well-propor- 
tioned nose, a lovely mouth, and perfect teeth, a profusion of 
raven-black hair, and the most beautiful neck and shoulders in 
the world ; her form rounded in youth, in later life inclined 
somewhat to embonpoint; she was now on the eve of com- 
pleting her sixteenth year, was agreeable and witty in conver- 
sation, sang and played well, danced with much grace, and 
" knew what very few persons were acquainted with in an age 
so little advanced as that."* 

Her affianced husband, Frederic, was now twenty-seven 
years of age : when in his infancy, his nurse had let him fall 
from her arms, the consequence of which infantine misfortune 
was now apparent in his weakly constitution, his small stature, 
and his deformity, to hide which as far as possible he wore a 
large peruke. The same cause may also account for his 
tendency to melancholy and nervous irritability. He had been 
carefully educated, contrary to the usual fortune of princes, 
and owing, perhaps, to his not being the heir apparent ; for his 
elder brother, the high-spirited Carl Emil, who announced 
that " all who studied and learned Latin were fools/' was a fine 
healthy young man, and there seemed but little probability 
that the puny Frederic, even should he survive his sickly 
childhood, would ever be called to inherit the electoral dignity ; 
but during the French campaign of 1674 the hopeful, though 
fiery and impetuous young electoral Prince was seized with a 
violent fever, of which he died at Strasbourg, at the age of 
nineteen ; and thenceforth the eyes of the nation were turned 
solicitously towards the younger brother, upon whom, at the 

* Vehse in his Preusz. Hof. quotes the Mercure galant for a description of 
Sophia Charlotte. Toland also describes her in his Tour. 


same time, the reversion of the dignity of electoral Prince 
drew the invidious attention of his stepmother ; and her mis- 
representations of him to his father, with whom it was her 
constant endeavour to embroil him, no doubt increased the 
tendency to rnoodiness and suspicion which marked his weak 
and easily biassed character. Weak I have said he was, and 
when I add that he was one to whom the sacrifice, which 
princes are called upon to make of the pleasures of domestic 
happiness, was not a painful one, who delighted in pomp and 
parade for its own sake, whose life was a series of ceremonies, 
without the inner reality which can alone make the outward 
symbols tolerable, it will at once be apparent how little he was 
fitted to fill the nearest and dearest of relationships to the 
warm-hearted, affectionate, and highly-gifted Sophia Charlotte, 
who, as Pollnitz says, was led to the altar a victim to the 
policy of her parents. Nevertheless, to do Frederic justice, 
through all his ostentation and display, a real love for his 
people and devotion to their interests may frequently be traced ; 
and in his private capacity he was, though passionate, easily 
appeased, though fickle and of no great depth of affection, not 
difficult to live with, and had not Sophia Charlotte despised 
the part which his favourites unscrupulously adopted, of ma- 
naging him by his weaknesses, she might have governed both 
him and his dominions entirely : but she had little ambition to 
rule, especially if it must be done by meanness and intrigue ; 
and I shall have to record no interference of hers in state 
affairs, save when, once or twice, her influence was employed 
at the formal and repeated request of her husband and his 

On Sunday the 8th of October (N.S.), 1684, at Herren- 
hausen, the Princess of Hanover having renounced her pro- 
fession of the Lutheran for the Reformed Faith, which was 
that of Frederic, her marriage with the " Prussian jflEsop," as 
she used afterwards to call him, was solemnized with much 
magnificence : the Mercure Galant of December, 1684, has 


left us a description of the ceremony, which I abbreviate, in 
order not to weary the patience of my readers. 

There were six services, which not unnaturally appeared very 
tedious to the Prince ; and the Princess, though charming all 
eyes by her modesty and beauty, was so incommoded by the 
length of the ceremony, added to the weight of her sumptuous 
apparel, and of the crown of pearls and diamonds which she 
wore, that the bridegroom, observing her change colour, 
anxiously begged the Duchess, her mother, to relieve her of 
these burdens ; she was accordingly led away to her own apart- 
ment, and shortly afterwards reconducted, for the completion of 
the solemnity, attired in a deshabille, consisting of a simarre of 
gold brocade and flame-colour, in which " simple ornament she 
looked even lovelier than before." On the 10th of October, 
the sixteenth birthday of Sophia Charlotte, took place the 
solemn entry of the bride and bridegroom into Hanover. A 
ball on the evening of the same day was opened by the cere- 
mony of the Torch dance, an ancient custom preserved in 
Germany on the occasion of royal marriages ; it was performed 
in the following manner : 

Six gentlemen of the Court of Hanover, and six gentlemen 
of the electoral Prince's train, each holding a lighted flambeau 
of wax, six feet long, formed a procession. The bride and 
bridegroom placed themselves in the centre, and led off the 
dance; the Duke of Hanover then took the place of the 
electoral Prince, and the Duchess that of the Princess, whilst 
the Prince of Hanover took that of the Duke, and so on in 
rotation, till everybody had changed places with everybody else. 
This dance, which lasted for two hours, was performed to the 
sound of trumpets, violins not being admitted. 

A week after this torch dance Frederic returned to Berlin, 
his bride accompanying him only as far as Burgsdorf, where the 
Duke of Zell gave a banquet in their honour; she then returned 
to Hanover, where she remained with her mother for six weeks 
longer, before she rejoined her husband ; and there let us leave 


her, while we take a short survey of the State and Court of 
Berlin, her future residence. 

It has been before stated that on the accession of Frederic 
William, the great Elector, in 1640, he found his territory 
devastated by the ravages of hostile troops, and its resources 
drained by the terrible Thirty Years' War; his capital in 
ruins, the greater part of the houses, which were built of wood, 
abandoned for the want of inhabitants; the population decreased 
to between six and seven thousand; the streets unpaved, the 
bridges out of repair ; public buildings there were few or none. 
The remaining inhabitants gained a livelihood by keeping 
and fattening cattle, the state of the streets may therefore be 
more easily imagined than described. Before the door of each 
house were uncleansed stables, tainting the air with the most 
intolerable effluvia. Like Paris, in the time when the eldest 
son of Louis le Gros met his death by a pig's running between 
his horse's legs, the streets swarmed with these animals, and 
were impassable from the accumulations of filth and refuse 
caused by them ; and even so late as the year 1671, a decree 
was passed ordaining that every peasant who came to market, 
should, on his return, carry away with him a cart-load of these 
abominations ; and the law forbidding the citizens any longer 
to feed or fatten cattle within the precincts of the town was 
not passed until ten years later. 

Under the roof of the electoral palace were comprised, not 
only the mint, and the courts of justice, but also the prisons, 
and even the place of execution, until, in 1648, the Elector ex- 
pressed his determination no longer to have prisoners within 
the walls that sheltered himself and his family. 

Happily for the great Elector, when the plague broke out in 
Brandenburg in 1634, he had been sent into Holland,* where a 
prospect, widely different from the narrow horizon which limited 
the Court of his weak-minded father, opened upon his view. In 

* See Introductory Chapter. 


the midst of a land which had won, and still maintained its 
cherished freedom by its own heroic efforts, what better school 
could have been found for that expanding mind, which was one 
day to wrest from unwilling Europe the materials for a new and 
powerful kingdom ? 

From the time that Frederic William left the death-bed of 
his father, to become his successor, his life was one vast effort 
for the accomplishment of his great end the amelioration and 
aggrandizement of his people and his country. 

The peace of Westphalia gave him leisure, amongst other 
reforms, to improve the state of the capital, to which end he 
employed Giromela, Roe Guerin, and others of the most cele- 
brated architects of the day ; and so far had he succeeded in his 
object, that Patin, a French traveller, in 1672, describes the 
sight of Berlin as alone repaying him for all his fatigues, and 
that town itself as " une ouverture au ciel d'ou le soleil faisait 
sentir ses rayons & ce territoire." 

Nor must I omit here to mention the great and beneficial 
effect produced about this time, by the settlement of great 
numbers of French religious refugees in Berlin. Whilst Louis 
XIV., giving way to that intolerant spirit which shortly after- 
wards dictated the revocation of the edict of Nantes, was thus 
depopulating France of her best and most industrious subjects, 
Prussia was profiting in a fully equal ratio, in return for the 
asylum which she afforded to the Huguenots. 

Here, as in other places, where similar colonizations took 
place, the introduction of various kinds of industry marked the 
footsteps of the emigrants; and Berlin, which, a few years 
before, had been so unimportant a town, that the tourist thought 
it not worth while to turn out of his road to visit it, now with 
her beautiful public buildings, her manufactures of silk and 
woollen, her fabrics of gold, silver, leather and porcelain, began 
to assume the state of a nourishing city of no mean commercial 

Some writers ascribe to the French immigration and conse- 


quent mixture of races, almost as great an influence upon the 
people of Prussia, as that which the Norman Conquest exercised 
upon our Anglo-Saxon forefathers in England ; at all events, 
the result was soon perceptible enough, in the general adoption 
of the French language and manners, and, I fear we must add, 
vices also, in many cases. This is the less surprising, if we 
reflect, that, when immediately after the revocation of the edict 
of Nantes, Frederic William formally offered the Huguenots a 
refuge in his dominions, the number who took advantage of 
his invitation amounted to twenty thousand, and that, therefore, 
although the number of the inhabitants had increased three- 
fold since 1640, certainly near half of the population of Berlin 
must have been French. 

Of course the effects of such an ingress of foreigners could 
not be wholly beneficial ; many of them were the merely idle 
and curious, who preferred begging to taking up any trade ; 
and probably the first seeds of that terrible deterioration of 
manners and morals, which we shall have occasion to notice in 
the next century, may be traced back to this period ; for though 
the generality of the French Huguenots affected even a somewhat 
austere demeanour, to distinguish themselves yet the more 
from the Roman Catholics of the Court, the licentiousness of 
whose manners was the scandal of Europe, and though Frederic 
William in 1686 passed a decree, which was again enforced by 
both his son and grandson, forbidding his subjects to send 
children, in compliance with the existing French mania, to 
learn the (< great airs " of the Court of France, and many 
worse things besides, yet, even so soon afterwards as 1698 
appeared a publication with the title " The German French 
Mania, whoso reads will understand," protesting with strong 
conservative and patriotic disgust, against the encroachments of 
the French fashions, and the "proud, false, and licentious 
French spirit, which, as erst the serpent lulled our first parents 
in Paradise, with caressing words and flattering speech/' was 
luring on the Prussians to the destruction of their " dear 


German freedom." It also laments the already prevalent 
foreign vices which disfigured the primitive simplicity of the 
German manners, whilst it ridicules with broad humour the 
absurd spirit of imitation which prevailed in all classes, and 
which, supposing a suitor to be arrayed in French hat and vest, 
would atone in his fair lady's eyes for a " crooked hawk's nose, 
calf s eyes and a hump," and make even bandy legs tolerable 
so long as they were clad in French " fashionable stockings." 

But to return to Sophia Charlotte. She was accompanied 
by her mother and eldest brother, (the future king of England,) 
on her journey to Berlin, where she arrived on the 2nd of No- 
vember, and the next day entered the city in state with her 
husband. She was cordially received by her father-in-law, the 
great Elector, who during the short remainder of his life always 
testified the utmost kindness and affection for her. She also 
maintained a footing of at least apparent friendliness with the 
Electress, whose character is not painted in the brightest of 
colours by the historians of the day. She was even accused of 
having administered poison to the electoral Prince himself, in a 
cup of coffee, and to his brother Louis in an orange, presented 
to him at a ball given at her residence, in order to make way 
for her own favourite son, Philip William of Schwedt. 

But though Prince Louis did die suddenly, and though 
sundry unpleasant allusions were made to the actions of Agrip- 
pina and Locusta in the rumours with which the gossip of the 
time was rife, yet, as these accusations have been perpetuated 
by the pens of those who, for family reasons, bore no good-will 
to the memory of the Electress, we may at least hope that they 
were unfounded, more especially, as the same writers allow, that 
although she did not belie the commonly-received idea of a 
stepmother's love, at least she was a virtuous wife, and a tender 
mother to her own children. She had great influence over the 
Elector, in the then weak and declining state of his health. 
His descendant, Frederic the Great, speaks of him as having 
"no weaknesses, save for wine and his wife." This latter 


foible applies, no doubt, to Dorothea, and not to Louisa of 
Orange, of whose pure and elevated character a sketch has 
already been given. 

The only occasion on which the Electress Dorothea seriously 
interfered in the affairs of Sophia Charlotte was at the period 
of an accouchement, probably her first, to which T shall have 
occasion presently to refer. 

The electoral Prince had now a separate residence, household, 
and body-guard allotted to him. Of his domestic life with 
Sophia Charlotte but little can be said, as though troubled by 
no quarrels, it was at the same time brightened by no affection. 
The marriage, as we have seen, was not one of inclination, on 
her side at least, nor does any attachment, as is sometimes the 
case, appear to have resulted. She was uniformly cold and 
reserved in her intercourse with him, perhaps because, with her 
usual sincerity, she feared leading him to imagine that she 
felt any greater warmth of sentiment than really existed for 
him in her heart ; and he, who had admired her beauty, 
and felt for her, at first, as strong a passion as his nature 
was capable of, finding that his advances met with no return, 
soon likewise subsided into indifference. It is to be feared 
that her feeling for him partook at length more of the nature 
of contempt than of this merely negative quality, for upon one 
occasion, at a later period, when Leibnitz had sent her a paper 
upon " les infiniment petits," she is said to have exclaimed, 
"Does he think that the wife of Frederic I. can need a 
dissertation upon 'infinite littleness ? ' "* 

Differing then, as the husband and wife did, in every senti- 
ment, it is not surprising that they soon seldom met, save upon 
state occasions ; and after the death of Frederic William, such 
innovations had Sophia Charlotte made upon the primitive 

* Thiebault in his "Mem. de Vingt Ans de Sejour & Berlin," gives this anec- 
dote, but a letter from Sophia Charlotte to Mile. Pb'llnitz contains the following 
passage : u Dernierement Leibnitz m'a fait une dissertation sur les infiniments 
petits, qui mieux que moi, ma chere, est au fait de ces etres ?" 


customs of the Court of Berlin, that those who were leaving a 
soiree of the Electress were just in time for the levee of the 
Elector. The French colony, as it was called, at Berlin, where 
many persons of high education and great superiority of intel- 
lect were to be found, was a great resource to Sophia Charlotte ; 
and with a woman's ready sympathy for misfortune superadded 
to her enjoyment of their society, she speedily drew around her 
a circle of these illustrious exiles, and fixed certain days for 
receiving them at her residence of Liitzelburg, when all court 
ceremony was laid aside, and the ladies were expected to appear 
dressed in black, to avoid the expense of less simple attire. 
Card-playing was interdicted on these occasions, needlework 
and conversation being the occupation and amusement of the 
day, whilst French was the only language spoken. It is related 
that one of the most distinguished of the emigrants, hearing 
the Princess conversing with so pure an accent in his own lan- 
guage, asked the historian Gregorio Leti, (likewise a religious 
refugee,) whether she could speak German. 

The timefor the electoral Princess's approaching confinement* 
being now at hand (1686), she most earnestly desired to be at 
Hanover with her mother during that period ; but to this very 
natural wish the Electress Dorothea opposed her ill oifices with 
the Elector, and the projected journey appears to have become a 
flight, and that undertaken at so late a period, that the Princess 
was taken ill and obliged to stop upon the road, at no great 
distance from Berlin, and being taken into the house of a 
village schoolmaster, there gave birth to a son. The child 
was baptized three days afterwards at Berlin, by a name, the 
uncertainty of which is of small moment, as it only lived 
three months. 

In the following year, 1687, took place the death of the 
unfortunate Prince Louis, to which we have before alluded, and 
which so greatly increased the unpopularity of the Electress. 

* Several historians differ as to whether this episode took place at this or a sub- 
sequent accouchement. I have followed Varnhagen von Ense. 


He had married a rich Polish princess of the house of Rade- 
zwil, in opposition to his stepmother's wish that he should take 
to wife a niece of her own ; (who subsequently became Duchess 
of Holstein Beck.) This lady had the credit of presenting 
him with the particularly fine orange which was reported to 
have caused his death. 

Sophia Charlotte this year accompanied her husband to 
Leipzig, and it was during this visit that she is said so cruelly 
to have bewildered the erudite Carpzow, by speaking to him of 
more books, with the contents, as well as titles of which she 
appeared to be perfectly familiar, than that learned man could 
remember having even heard of. An anecdote is also related 
of her, that another very learned man, having long and vainly 
sought for the name of a place upon the map of Asia, she quickly 
solved his difficulty by showing it to him upon that of Africa. 

On the 16th of February, 1688, the last birthday of the great 
Elector, his indisposition assumed an alarming character, and it 
soon became evident that his days were numbered. During 
the latter part of his illness he dismissed the Electress from her 
attendance upon him, and desired that his son Frederic and 
Sophia Charlotte should remain with him till his death, which 
took place in the month of May. The electoral Prince left 
Potsdam, the usual residence of the Elector, for Berlin the 
same evening. Freytag, the Austrian ambassador, had set off 
to Potsdam, to congratulate him upon his accession, but found 
the gates of the capital closed against all egress. This was 
probably the first time that an Austrian ambassador had ever 
experienced the possibility of a door being closed upon him in 
the electorate of Brandenburg. 

The new Elector received the oaths of fealty on the 14th, 
and very different was the inheritance to which he succeeded, 
from the barren waste of sand and fir trees, depopulated towns, 
and poverty-stricken peasantry which had been the patrimony 
of his father ; and fortunate, indeed, for him, and for the 
country was it, that he succeeded Frederic William, and not 


George William, or Brandenburg would have still been in the 
eighteenth century the same petty principality which it was in 
the beginning of the seventeenth ; and Frederic the Great would, 
in all probability, have been but little in a condition either to 
wrest Silesia from the hands of the Empress queen, or having 
done so, to stand, as he did, alone against the attack of the 
combined powers of Europe. 

But now, with trade and cultivation in a comparatively 
flourishing state, and with finances which were able to supply 
even the boundless expenses of his craving for magnificence, 
the Elector Frederic III. may be said to have commenced his 
reign under the most flattering auspices. 

Amongst his first acts was one dictated by a spirit of 
forgiveness which it would be unjust not to notice. In spite 
of her past attempts against him, he gave orders that the 
utmost deference and respect should be paid to the Electress 
Dowager, and arranged with great care for the settlement of 
her daughters. She only survived her husband about one 

To Sophia Charlotte the change in her position perhaps made 
almost less difference than to any other person concerned in it. 
For power she had no wish, and save that her court was 
enlarged, and that she had to endure more of the tedium of 
court ceremony, she made but little change in her manner of 

Amongst the ladies of her train, she was fortunate in num- 
bering one whom she regarded in the light of a most intimate 
friend. This was the Fraulein Pollnitz, the cousin of the 
tourist,* who describes her as nearly equalling her mistress in 
beauty and wit, and as possessing a highly-cultivated mind ; 
and although the Margravine of Baireuth does describe her as 

* The Baron de Pollnitz, Gentleman of the Chamber and Chamberlain during 
the reigns of the three first kings of Prussia, and author of "Mem. pour servir 
a 1'Hist. des quatres derniers Souverains de Brand ebourg, " and of a tour through 
most of the countries of Europe. I shall have occasion to refer to him frequently 
in the ensuing history. 


intriguing, venomous of tongue, and having but three little 
foibles, " the love of play, men and wine/' yet as this less flat- 
tering description was made in 1722, when, as the Duchess of 
Orleans says of the same lady, she had fully tried St. Paul's 
maxim, that he who marries does well, but he who marries not 
does better; and as the occasion on which the Margravine 
became acquainted with her was one upon which Mademoiselle 
Pollnitz was despatched from Hanover, on the invidious errand 
of ascertaining whether that Princess was crooked, pock- 
marked, and a fool, whilst she seemed very much inclined to 
discover those defects, whether they existed or not, we shall pro- 
bably not err in supposing the Margravine's graphic picture of 
her to be a little caricatured. However this may be, Fraulein 
Pb'llnitz was indispensable to Sophia Charlotte ; even Fraulein 
Billow, though likewise a great favourite, had only " de ce gros 
bon sens qui ne marche qu'en bottes fortes/'* and could not 
compensate for the absence of La Pollnitz, with her subtle wit, 
and her keen sense of the ridiculous, which enabled her to find 
food for laughter with her mistress, in the petty vexations and 
absurdities which annoyed the latter when deprived of this 
resource ; a lively correspondence was therefore kept up during 
any temporary absence of the maid of honour from her post, 
as a specimen of which I will transcribe part of the same letter 
from which I have just quoted. " Certain philosophe abhorre 
le vide, et moi chere Pollnitz le plein. J'avais hier k ma cour 
deux dames, La B et la Y, grosses jusqu'aux dents, maussades 
jusqu'au sommet et sottes jusqu'aux talons. Mais, ma chere, 
soupgonnez-vous que Dieu en creant de telles especes les forma 
a son image ? Non, il fit un moule tout expres et tres different 
pour nous apprendre le prix des graces et de la beaute par com- 
paraison. Si vous trouvez ceci mechant, je sais a qui je 
m'adresse ; a bon chat, bon rat. Comme mon esprit est monte 
aujourd'hui mechamment, il faut poursiiivre. J'ai vu deux 
benets d'etrangers ; si 1'or, les galons et les franges denotaient 

* Letter of Sophia Charlotte to La Pollnitz. 



le merite, rien n'egal egalerait le leur. Mais comme je respecte 
peu F opulence, j'ai apprecie leur juste valeur; je comprends que 
Paspect des grands peut intimider, et oter a Pesprit la facilite de 
briller et de paraitre, et alors j'encourage. Mais lorsque la 
fatuite s'en mele, et que la presomption et la sottise veulent 
usurper ^approbation due au vrai merite, je suis impitoyable, et 
je ne fais grace sur rien. Que la defiance sur ce que nous 
valons est estimable, mais cette vertu est rare ! Ne croyons 
nous pas toujours de valoir quelques carats de plus que 
d'autres ? La vilaine chose que Forgueil, et pourtant ce senti- 
ment est notre plus fidele compagnon. Grand Leibnitz que tu 
dis sur ce sujet de belles choses ! Tu plais, tu persuades, mais 
tu ne corriges pas Je suis en train de moraliser, et le concert 
commence. Le nouveau chanteur doit chanter. Sa reputation 
Pa precede : s'il la soutient, que je vais passer agreablement 
mon temps ! Adieu, adieu, quoi, vous m'arretez quand la 
musique m'attend ! Je sacrifie Famie aux talens. Adieu, vous 
dis-je, et cela sans appel. 

" Deux mots, ma chere Pollnitz ; envoyez ces diamans pour 
mon brasselet a la Liebman.* Je lui ai donne mes ordres pour la 
fa9on. Je n'ai guere de temps ; Madame PElectricef est arrivee. 
Que d' etiquettes k observer ! Ce n'est pas que je haisse le faste, 
mais je le voudrais independent de la gene mais que ne vou- 
drais-je pas, et surtout vous, qui me manquez essentiellement ! 

" On vous promet certain prince : tant pis et tant mieux; je 
me jette dans mon lit. Adieu, bon soir, qu'on tire le rideau, 
votre reine, votre amie s'endort." 

This letter belongs to a later period than that at which I 
have inserted it; it is without date, and is one of those for 
which Erman was indebted to Frederic William II., who 
allowed him to have access to all the still existing corre- 
spondence of Sophia Charlotte. 

In the beginning of August, (the exact date is given differ- 

* Wife of Liebman, the court jeweller, a Jew. 
t Probably her mother. 


ently by different authors,) of the same year in which the great 
Elector died, occurred the birth of a new electoral Prince, after- 
wards King Frederic William I., an event which was hailed with 
the greatest delight by the people, whose hopes of an heir had 
now been several times disappointed. Public rejoicings took 
place both in Berlin and Hanover, and the Duchess Sophia 
herself, hastened over to the bedside of her daughter ; so eager 
was she to behold her grandson, that she scarcely waited to 
embrace the mother, before she repeatedly asked for the child, 
and when the healthy, strong-limbed boy was put into her arms, 
she smothered him with kisses, laughing and crying at the same 
time, and would scarcely allow him to be taken from her again. 
The Elector testified his joy in the way in which all his emo- 
tions seemed to have found utterance, by a series of very splen- 
did public entertainments. The following year, after a journey 
to Halle to receive the homage of that town, Frederic, accom- 
panied by the Electress, set off to join his troops, which, in 
execution of his compact with William of Orange, were assem- 
bled upon the Rhine. Sophia Charlotte made a deviation from 
the route to visit Hanover, rejoining the Elector at Wesel. 

During the ensuing warlike operations, and the siege of 
Bonn, she resided at Cologne, whence she made several excur- 
sions, on one of which she visited the Princess Mary of Orange 
at the Hague, and from this period commenced a sustained 
correspondence between the two ladies. 

One of the events which took place during the siege of Bonn 
was the death of the Electress Dowager, a loss which few seem 
to have lamented. 

Asfeld, who commanded for Louis XIV., and had bravely 
held out Bonn to the last, having been obliged to capitulate, 
the Elector returned to Berlin in November, and indulged in a 
triumphal entry and a succession of fetes, which were a delight 
to his own heart and a weariness to that of his wife. 

It was about this time that an accident befell Frederic whilst 
hunting, which confined him for some days to his bed ; and as 

E 2 


Sophia Charlotte attended him in his sick room, we might have 
supposed that the closer approximation thus induced, and the 
interchange of attention and care on the one side, and grati- 
tude on the other, would have drawn closer the bonds of affec- 
tion between the husband and wife ; but, alas ! the former's 
foible for ceremony and state had attended him even to his 
bedside, and they remained as much strangers to each other as 

The beginning of the year 1690 was embittered to Sophia 
Charlotte by the first severe domestic misfortune which she had 
as yet experienced. This was the loss of her two brothers, 
Charles Philip and Frederic Augustus, who had served in the 
Imperial army, and who were cut off within three days of each 
other; the former, the darling of his mother, fell fighting like 
a hero, hand to hand with the enemy at Pristina, in Albania, 
on the 3rd of January, 1 690 ; whilst the latter, the younger 
and favourite brother of Sophia Charlotte, was killed in Tran- 
sylvania, where he headed an attempt to drive the Turks from 
a pass of which they had possessed themselves, December 30, 

The Duchess Sophia was almost crushed by this double mis- 
fortune, and her daughter hastened over to Hanover, at once 
to alleviate her mother's grief by her tender care, and to solace 
her own by its participation. In the April following she ac- 
companied her mother to Carlsbad for the sake of the Duchess's 
health, which was greatly affected by the blow she had sus- 
tained. It was in a letter of thanks to Leibnitz, for the good 
news communicated by him of the amendment of her mother's 
health, that Sophia Charlotte's correspondence with that great 
man commenced. 

As there is nothing in Frederic's journey to Konisberg to be 
inaugurated Duke of Prussia, in presence of the Polish Am- 
bassadors (that duchy being still dependent upon the kingdom 
of Poland), which especially relates to the Electress, I pass it 
over without further notice, and proceed to the year 1691, 


when the Elector made his consort a present of the large 
castle and garden, which afterwards became the residence of 
Sophia Dorothea, Queen of Frederic William I., and which 
received from her the name of Monbijou. The district be- 
longing to this castle then included nearly the whole of the 
land on which now stands the suburb of Spandau with part 
of Dorotheenstadt ; somewhat later also, the ground now occu- 
pied by the suburb of Stralau came into her possession. 
Unlike her predecessor, Dorothea, who caused part of her 
property to be built upon in order to benefit by the house- 
rent thus accruing, and who drew considerable profits from a 
wine and beer house, and a hotel which she caused to be con- 
structed before the Spandau gate to receive the Hamburg 
merchants, thus greatly aggrieving the hotel-keepers and publi- 
cans of Berlin, Sophia Charlotte let this property at a merely 
nominal ground-rent, sometimes at none at all, as building 
and garden ground, to the citizens of Berlin. She was greatly 
and deservedly beloved by them, for she was always ready to 
hear the petitions of even the humblest and poorest, talking 
with them gladly, helping them if she could, or at least sooth- 
ing their troubles, and cheering their hearts with her gentle, 
kindly words. After her death, until the time of Louisa, wife 
of Frederic William III., the Prussians had no queen, who was 
held by them in a measure of love and veneration, in any degree 
equalling that with which they regarded the memory of Sophia 

For her own residence she had chosen the beautifully-situ- 
ated village of Liitzen on the Spree, and having bought the 
estate of Ruhe-leben, she caused the castle of Liitzelburg to 
be built upon it, in the Italian style, after the designs of 
Schliiter, whilst a beautiful garden was laid out from the plans 
of Le Notre; the building was prepared for her reception in 
1696, but was not completed during her lifetime. Here, in 
the society of her chosen friends, Sophia Charlotte flung aside 
the hateful thraldom of that etiquette which made the ceding 


of an arm-chair * matter of a month's negotiation, and a step in 
precedence a mortal offence, and being allowed to be natural 
was happy and gay. 

The negotiations for the erecting of Hanover into an elec- 
torate, which had been for some time pending, chiefly through 
the medium of the Duchess, who had the affair much at heart, 
now came to a successful issue, and Ernest Augustus was 
declared Elector of Hanover in 1692. It was on this occasion 
that Stepney, the English ambassador at Berlin, addressed the 
following couplet to the Electress of Brandenburg : 

" Electoris eras conjux, nunc filia facta es, 
Sis modo sera parens, sis quoque sera soror." 

A prophecy which was more than accomplished by the event. 
After a visit to John George, Elector of Saxony, at Torgau, 
when arrangements were made for his betrothal with the 
widowed sister of Frederic, Eleanore of Eisenach, Margravine 
of Anspach, the Elector and Electress of Brandenburg returned 
by way of Hanover, to Berlin. 

On the 26th of June of the same year, Sophia Charlotte, 
though in good health, set herself to the task of making her will. 
Having disposed of all her personal property, and expressed 
the tenderest affection for her son, she fixes the text of her 
funeral sermon from the sublime words of St. John ii. 25. 
" I am the resurrection and the life ; he that believeth in me, 
though he were dead, yet shall he live." Though she appears 
to have had a kind of presentiment that her life would not be a 
long one, yet the idea of death was never to her accompanied by 
gloom ; on the contrary, she always looked upon it with a calm, 
cheerful, somewhat curious eye ; nor did she in the least slacken 
in her enjoyment of, or interest in, the things of this life, from 
the reflection that her participation in them might be but 
short. Shortly afterwards Leibnitz, aware of her love of all 

* See Marg. Baireuth's interview with the Empress of Charles VII. After much 
discussion it was decided that the Empress should only take "a very small 
chair," and the Margravine a "dossier." 


matters of scientific interest, sent her a letter descriptive of a 
fossil tooth found at Brunswick, which was supposed by the 
vulgar to be the tooth of a giant, but which he, from its struc- 
ture, believed that of an elephant, or, as the comparative cold 
of the climate seemed to preclude this idea, that of some 
marine creature analogous to an elephant. His letter is in- 
teresting, as conveying the philosopher's ideas upon a subject 
so little investigated as the science of palaeontology then was. 
I do not insert it, lest those of my readers to whom such 
fossil curiosities are merely " dry bones " should find their 
patience wearied. 

The following Christmas was spent by Sophia Charlotte and 
Frederic at Hanover; they were accompanied by the little 
electoral Prince, now four years old, on whom both his mother 
and grandmother doated with an excessive affection, which led 
to a degree of indulgence, highly prejudicial to so turbulent a 
spirit as that with which he was endowed. The Electress 
Sophia entreated so urgently that he might be left under her 
care, that his mother at length consented, the rather because, 
owing to the great demands made upon her time by state ap- 
pearances, &c., and her frequent absences from home, days 
and even weeks frequently passed in which she was not able to 
see the child. 

I must now no longer omit to give some account of the 
characteristic childhood of Frederic William I., and of the 
provision which Sophia Charlotte made for that, in her eyes, 
all-important object, his education; 'and if she failed in her 
efforts to make him all that a prince ought to be, it was rather 
from over-anxiety than from neglect. 

She seems, in common with many learned grown-up persons, 
who are not much accustomed to the minds of children, to have 
expected him to view learning, and the means of its attainment, 
through her own philosophical eyes, forgetting that the intel- 
lectual point of sight of a child, falls, as greatly as his stature, 
below that of an adult, and that to his young and restless mind 


and ever-moving limbs, both requiring motion to expand their 
growth, the acquirement of learning, as a task, is nauseous as 
is to his palate the physic, which it requires not only gilded 
cup and sweetmeat, but all his little principles of love and duty 
to make him swallow: and thus knowledge, beautiful and 
alluring as it may be made even to the mind of a child, is 
allowed to be presented dry, withered and unsightly, as if a 
naturalist should offer his Hortus siccus to a child who loves to 
pluck the gay, glad flowers in sunny meadows, and expect him 
to behold in its discoloured specimens the same attractive beauty 
which charms his eye in the living blossoms. 

Upon Frederic William, although his constitution "was too 
strong to allow him to become either deformed in body or 
weak in mind, like the Dauphins of France, the system of 
education then in vogue, had the effect of making him detest 
learning and all its appliances; and though in later life the con- 
sequences of this injudicious treatment were but too apparent, 
yet the injustice he did to the memory of his mother, in saying 
that she was " no good Christian " * for her treatment of, and 
indulgence towards him, is manifestly owing to the same warp 
in his mind which induced him to behave with such harshness 
to his own children. Besides, her extreme indulgence was in 
part the result of a mistaken idea that by allowing his boiste- 
rous disposition to have its full swing, it might become modified 
more successfully than by restraint and strictness. Several 
anecdotes are on record of the manner in which she endea- 
voured to carry out this principle. The Count Christopher 
Dohna had two sons of about the young Prince's age, and 
Sophia Charlotte used frequently to have them at the Castle, as 
playmates for her own son. On one occasion she took them 
into the Elector's apartment, and told them to make all the 
noise they could. The three boys, nothing loth to obey, seized 
upon the great silver bell which was used to summon the 
attendants, and began to ring with all their might. Both the 

* Morgenstern. 


Elector and Count Christopher, alarmed at this " Glocken-trio," 
hastily entered the apartment, and the dismay of the refined 
courtier may be imagined at beholding the origin of the 
uproar. However, the naive reply of one of the little Dohnas 
to the Electress's question, " Who is that gentleman ?" (pointing 
to the Elector,) ' ( Why, the Burgomaster of Mohrung,* to be 
sure," elicited a smile even on the shocked countenance of the 
Elector, and set all parties at their ease again. 

As we have seen, Frederic William was a strong and healthy 
child, so that D'Artis, the Court preacher, in his sermon on the 
death of Prince Louis, said that " everything in the electoral 
Prince gave cause to hope for a vigorous government." Unlike 
his father, not only in his sturdy, corporeal frame and rude 
health, but also in his resolute and obstinate temper, the little 
Prince soon became what nursemaids call a " tyrant " in the 
nursery. He was confided to the care of a French lady of the 
name of Montbail, nee Duval, afterwards known as Madame de 
Rocoulles, and many were the panics into which he threw that 
good lady and her subordinate, Eversmann, by his juvenile 
escapades. Once he plunged the whole palace into direful con- 
fusion by swallowing one of his silver-gilt shoe buckles, on 
which occasion we are told that " Madame the Electress uttered 
cries which would have softened rocks/' and which perhaps had 
that effect upon the offending buckle, for the heir of Prussia 
escaped with no evil consequence from this misapplication of 
purposes. Upon another occasion Madame de Montbail having 
threatened to punish him, he took advantage of her momentary 
inadvertence to climb upon the parapet outside the window, and 
declared his intention of throwing himself down unless she 
remitted the punishment ; nor would he come down from his 
perch until poor Madame de Montbail, terrified at the prospect 
of such a termination to her office, and well knowing he would 
put his threat into execution, capitulated in form. 

He was as complete a contrast to his father in his detestation 

* A small country estate belonging to Count C. Dohna. 


of finery as in other things. A splendid brocade dressing- 
gown being one day brought for his use, he watched his oppor- 
tunity, and flung it into the fire. These anecdotes, together 
with a later exploit of his, achieved in company with his cousin, 
the Prince of Anhalt Dessau, of cutting off the tails of some 
cows whose herdsmen they found asleep,* may give some idea 
of the sort of subject which Frederic William presented for the 
management of his preceptors. 

His stay at Hanover was curtailed by his quarrel with his 
cousin George, son of the electoral Prince of Hanover, after- 
wards George II. of England. This juvenile strife between 
the two boys appears to have given rise to a deep-rooted dis- 
like, which lasted the whole of their respective lives.'f' George 
of Hanover afterwards gave Frederic William the soubriquet 
of " the sergeant," whilst Frederic William retaliated by nick- 
naming his cousin " the dancing-master." George also super- 
seded Frederic William in the affections of his first love, the 
Princess Caroline of Anspach, and thus, as they both grew up, 
widened the breach between them. 

On the return of the little electoral Prince to Berlin he was 
replaced under the care of Madame de Montbail, but it was 
soon apparent that he was by far too boisterous to be con- 
trolled by female management, and the choice of a male pre- 
ceptor became necessary. For this purpose Sophia Charlotte 
had fixed upon the Count Alexander de Dohna. This gentle- 
man was of a very ancient and noble Swiss family, who had 
formerly gained too much power in Saxony, and been thence ex- 
pelled. J His father was general in the Dutch service. Dohna 
was a handsome man, of a stately presence, refined, somewhat 
austere manners, and highly honourable principles, although 

* Vehse. 

f Frederic William is said, on his death-bed, to have asked whether it was 
indispensably necessary that he should forgive all his enemies, and upon being 
answered in the affirmative, to have turned to his Queen Sophia Dorothea, and 
said, " Then write to the King of England that I die at peace with him but 
wait till I am dead first." Malmesbury. 

Vehse, and Dohua's "Memoirs." 


of ambitious views. His chief disqualification was an extreme 
love of economy some called it avarice which unfortunately 
brought out the same already-innate quality in his pupil to an 
extent that became only too apparent in his after life. 

For the appointment of this gentleman Sophia Charlotte 
applied to the then all-powerful minister Danckelmann, between 
whom and the Dohnas no love was lost.* Count Christopher 
tells a story of the Electress's application to Danckelmann for 
his own .appointment to a vacant post at Court, which seems to 
have been mistaken by some writers for that made with respect 
to the preceptorship for his brother. I therefore insert it. 
Danckelmann received the expression of the Electress' wishes 
with more than his usual coldness and reserve, for she had 
never much courted him, and he expected to be courted as his 
due ; besides, she was very friendly towards the Dohnas, whom 
he regarded, with considerable truth, as his enemies. He 
answered her request, therefore, by making difficulties, and 
alleged the necessity of consulting the will of the Elector. To 
his objections she replied, with vivacity, that she was " per- 
fectly aware what he had it in his power to do, and that, there- 
fore, the result would show the extent of his wish to oblige 
her/' Both the Dohnas, thus befriended, were respectively 
appointed to the posts in question. Count Alexander von 
Dohna was invested in 1695 with the charge of governor of 
the young Prince in a very lengthy and elaborate discourse, 
delivered by Fuchs, to which he replied shortly and simply, by 
saying he would do his duty to the best of his ability. He 
proceeded to select, as coadjutors in his task, two gentlemen of 
the respective names of Rebeur and Cramer; the former, 
a Frenchman, had been tutor to the accomplished young 
M. de Brand, whose natural talents and amiable disposition 
happily prevailed over, rather than were cultivated by the 
education he had received, but whose mental advantages were 
ascribed by Dohna to his tutor's instructions. This tutor, 

* Count Christopher Dohna's "Memoirs." 


however, Pollnitz describes as self-conceited to the point of 
infatuation, a poetaster, " faisant le bel esprit," but little de- 
voted to his duties, and as wearying the Prince with studies 
more calculated to disgust, than to inspire him with a taste for 

Cramer was a German, whose chief characteristic was a 
mortal hatred of everything French. The brochure of the 
Abbe Bonhours, " Can a German possess intellect ? " rankled 
in his remembrance, and his influence over the mind of his 
pupil was principally manifested by that antipathy to France 
and the French people, manners and language, which he had 
succeeded in instilling into it. 

A glance at the great folios, still preserved as mementos of 
Frederic William's early studies, would probably make it at 
once apparent, why, with so many advantages of tuition, and 
with such a mother, he not only never became a learned man, 
but even conceived a violent antipathy for learning, and every- 
thing belonging to it. 

These said folios are in his own boyish hand, written in five 
columns, and consisting of extracts from the Old Testament, 
from Genesis to Malachi ; the second column in German, the 
third in French, the fourth in Latin, &c. It is certainly not 
wonderful that he should, ever after, have had an extreme aver- 
sion to the Old Testament writings, which he would not allow 
to be read in His presence. 

Interesting herself as she did in her son's education, Sophia 
Charlotte soon perceived the mistake which had been made in 
the choice of E/ebeur, and would gladly have procured his dis- 
missal; but this could not be accomplished without giving 
offence to Count Dohna, which she was most unwilling to do. 
Eebeur was therefore allowed to remain in his office, although 
it was greatly to the disadvantage of the young Prince. The 
year prior to this arrangement was marked in Sophia Charlotte's 
family by that unhappy series of misrepresentations and mis- 
takes which condemned the innocent and unhappy Sophia of 


Zell to the perpetual imprisonment of the Castle of Ahlden. I 
need not pause to tell the sad and well-known story of her 
husband's coldness and infidelity; of her outraged wifehood, 
and alienated affections ; nor of the intrigues of Madame 
Platen, and the murder of the hapless Konigsmark. Her 
husband's subsequent proposals of reconciliation, and her own 
indignant rejection of them, accompanied by the words, " If I 
am guilty, I am unworthy of him if I am innocent, he is un- 
worthy of me/' sufficiently proved Sophia's innocence, both 
for then and now.* 

No very particular events occurred at this period at Berlin ; 
the usual routine of so many state receptions, so many dinners 
and balls, occupied the Court, and the occasional visit of some 
distinguished foreigner furnished a new subject of conversation 
for the courtiers, and a little novelty for the Electress, who 
delighted in a discussion, and who generally engaged the 
strangers who visited her Court in some argument which 
might develope their peculiar ideas upon subjects of common 
interest. On one of these occasions, a French gentleman pro- 
pounded certain ideas upon the subject of the merely political 
institution of marriage, which seemed to her vicious and erro- 
neous, yet which she did not see clearly how to refute. She 
therefore called up Brunsenius, an ecclesiastic, who chanced to 
enter ; and, having satisfied herself that the arguments of the 
stranger could be refuted satisfactorily, she led him to resume 
the discussion with a champion better furnished with weapons 
than herself, in order to have the satisfaction of hearing the 
right cause triumphantly vindicated. 

Being fond not only of music, but of theatrical entertain- 
ments, Sophia Charlotte had prepared, for the eve of Easter 
of the year 1695, the performance of an opera, in the little 
theatre within the Castle, where it accordingly took place, to the 

* " The Georgian Era." Lord Mahon does not mention the proposals of recon- 
ciliation said to have been made by George I. to Sophia, but only alludes to her 
frequent protestations of innocence. 


great satisfaction of all parties concerned. Not so, however, to 
that of Cochins, the Court preacher, who looked upon it as a 
dangerous invention of Satan, and as such, loudly calling for 
reprehension. The next Sunday, therefore, he delivered a very 
stringent discourse, bearing upon the lamentable falling away 
of the Court, and of the Electress in particular, in respect of 
this enormity. But Sophia Charlotte, either too far behind the 
zealous ecclesiastic in piety, or before him in enlightenment, as 
opinions may decide, was not only impenitent for her transgres- 
sion, but actually formed the design, since operas could not be 
performed, whilst the ban of the Church was thus placed upon 
them, of subverting the rigid doctrines of the divine, and of 
even decoying himself into a participation of the dangerous 
amusement. Consequently, having demonstrated to him with 
cogent reasoning * that there absolutely was nothing wrong in 
these representations, she very winningry requested him, not 
only to be present himself, but to bring his wife and daughter 
to the next performance, which she was then preparing. How- 
ever, unfortunately for the success of her scheme, the young 
Count Donhoff, who was to take a part in the piece, was, at the 
same time, preparing for his first communion, under the eye of 
Cochins, and it so happened that the rehearsals for the opera, 
and the examinations for the communion came into collision; 
thus proving beyond all doubt, to the apprehension of the good 
preacher, that the thing was incontestibly evil ; accordingly, the 
ensuing Sunday, he launched forth upon the heinousness of the 
sin with greater vehemence than ever ; and with such effect, 
that the Elector caused all the paraphernalia to be dismantled, 
the stage itself to be broken up, and the boards to be carried 
away in the night. This little incident, it must be allowed, 
does equal honour to the sincerity of the fearless preacher, and 
to the moderation of the Elector, who was willing not only to 

* Dohna says that the reasoning employed was contained in a bag of ducats 
sent by the Elector, but Cochins, hurt by the imputation thus cast upon his in- 
tegrity, rejected the bribe with indignation. 


make a slight sacrifice, but even to thwart the wishes of his 
wife, rather than wound the conscientious scruples of a good 

I must pause here a moment, to relate the sad and romantic 
episode of the marriage and death of the Elector's half-brother, 
Charles Philip. He had been engaged in military service in 
Italy, and whilst at Turin had met with the beautiful Madame 
de Salmour, nee Balbiani, for whom he conceived a violent pas- 
sion. Finding that her favour was not to be obtained by any 
other than honourable proposals, for she, says Pollnitz, replied 
like Catherine de Rohan to Henry IV., that " though she was 
too poor to be his wife, she was yet of too honourable a house 
to be his mistress;" he married her privately. The Elector, 
having heard of the connection which his brother was likely to 
form, recalled him to Berlin; the Prince, however, took no 
notice of the summons, and the Elector then commissioned an 
officer named Hackeborn to arrest him, if necessary; at all 
events, to bring him to Berlin. Having obtained the permission 
of the Duke of Savoy, Hackeborn proceeded to execute his 
painful commission. He surprised the unfortunate young man 
one morning in the arms of his bride, and produced the order 
for arrest. The Prince seized his sword, and defended himself 
desperately. His arm having been wounded in the scuffle, he 
was disarmed and secured. Torn from the object of his pas- 
sionate attachment, who was sent immediately to a convent, he 
refused to allow the bleeding from his arm to be staunched, 
until he fainted from loss of blood; fever, induced by the ex- 
citement and agitation of his mind, set in, and in five days he 
was a corpse. 

After his funeral his widow was released from her confine- 
ment ; she subsequently claimed her dowry, and asked the pro- 
tection of the Emperor : Frederic offered to pay the dowry if 
she would relinquish the name of Madame de Brandenbourg, 
which she had assumed; but this she refused to do, saying that 
her honour was of more value to her than any other dowry. 


She accordingly retained the appellation, until her marriage 
with Count Wackerbarth, the Field Marshal of Saxony.* 

In 1696 took place that eventful meeting of Frederic with 
William III. at the Hague, when upon the refusal of the 
"fauteuil" to the Elector of Brandenburg is said to have de- 
pended the future royalty of Prussia. For as in compliance with 
the etiquette of courts, William thought it incumbent upon 
him to maintain his royal prerogative, and withhold the fauteuil 
which would have tacitly placed the Elector upon a footing of 
equality with himself, the indignity so roused that Prince's 
feelings and mortified his dominant passion, that, from this 
moment, he set his heart intently upon the long-revolved project 
of the erection of Prussia into a kingdom. And though at the 
ensuing interview at Cleves, upon Frederic's own territory, the 
chairs were equal, and the King took precedence in nothing 
save the right hand, yet the iron had entered too deeply into 
Frederic's small soul for the wound to cease from rankling, and 
he resolved to move heaven and earth to make himself a king. 

On the return of the Elector and Electress, (Sophia Charlotte 
having spent the time occupied by the Elector in visiting Wil- 
liam III., at Hanover,) we are informed that a " Lust Ballet " 
was prepared at Liitzelburg, in which, for the surprise and 
gratification of his mother, the young Prince was to personify 
Cupid ; a very comical travesty, accustomed as we are to his sub- 
sequent character as a man, and considering that the exploits of 

* This is Pollnitz's version of the event, which is, however, differently related 
by other authors. A scarce book, "La Guerre d' Italic ; ou, Memoires de Count 

D ," gives a detailed account, which states, that the Prince was not wounded, 

but after the seizure of his bride, betook himself to the siege of Casal, and that 
he was there overtaken by the fever, which, brought on by rage and despair, ter- 
minated his existence. 

Another account, composed by a Piedmontese, gives still different particulars ; 
all, however, agree in the facts of the marriage and the death of the Margrave 
Charles Philip. 

Madame de Salmour's son, by her first marriage, was adopted by her third hus- 
band, Count Wackerbarth, and bore the name of Wackerbarth Salmour. See 
Rodenbeck "Beitrage zur Geschichte Fred. Wilh. des Grossen." Churfiirsten. 


the little Frederic William were generally more characteristic of 
an infant Hercules than of the little God of love. 

A singular historical event occurred in the course of the 
year 1697, when a great Potentate despatched an embassy 
to a foreign Power, himself accompanying the mission in- 
cognito. I allude to the famous tour of Peter the Great, who, 
as he stated in the instructions of his ambassadors, having re- 
flected that he was wholly indebted to foreign engineers for the 
capture of Asow, had resolved to acquaint himself personally 
with the various branches of mechanics necessary for the im- 
provement of his army, navy, and empire generally, in those 
countries in which they had attained the greatest perfection. 
Frederic was very much flattered by the application of the Czar 
for permission to enter his dominions, and arranged to receive 
the embassy in person at Konigsberg, inconvenient though it 
was in point of expense, with all imaginable magnificence. 

The officers who were charged with the preparations, were 
ordered to make them upon as grand a scale " as if the Czar 
in person were to be entertained;" great, therefore, was the 
splendour of the Elector and his attendance, very gorgeous the 
robe of scarlet in which his person was arrayed to receive the 
Genevese Le Fort and the Prince Alexiowitz Goloffkin with their 
cortege of shaven-headed, half-savage Russian lords, in long 
furred robes, all glittering with " barbaric pearls and gold/' 

The Czar himself dined with Frederic in private more than 
once; upon one of these occasions an attendant having let fall 
a plate, the clatter thus produced so startled the Czar, that he 
jumped up seizing his sword, and it required Frederic's earnest 
assurances that no danger was to be apprehended in his domi- 
nions, to persuade him that an assault upon his person was not 
intended. He was very curious about the German manners and 
customs, and inquired particularly into the nature of their 
punishments. Upon hearing that malefactors were broken 
upon the wheel, he expressed a great desire to witness this 
punishment; he was told that there was, at that time, no criminal 


in the prisons who was amenable to such a sentence. The most 
natural and easy expedient in the world immediately suggested 
itself to surmount this difficulty. " Why not take one of my 
people?" said the Czar; and great was the difficulty of per- 
suading him, that this so laudable desire for knowledge could 
not be satisfied, at least on German ground. 

The Electress was particularly desirous to see this far-famed 
half-savage genius, but unfortunately, during his visit to Berlin, 
she was staying at Hanover. She therefore accepted joyfully 
the offer which the Privy Councillor, Paul Fuchs, who was pre- 
sent at the reception at Konigsberg, made her, to describe by 
letter all the circumstances which took place. I quote from her 
letter to him upon the occasion, as Sophia Charlotte always ex- 
presses her sentiments in a manner which is peculiarly her 
own. " I/offre que vous me faites de me donner une relation ex- 
acte du voyage du Czar, je 1'accepte de bon coeur, car sans que 
j'ai cela de commun avec toutes les femmes, d'etre curieuse, il 
me semble que cela est aussi plus permis sur cette matiere que 
sur aucune autre, car le cas est fort rare de voir le maitre in- 
connuavec son ambassade, ce qui jusqu'ici n'a ete pratique que 
dans les romans. Je regretterai fort de ne pas le voir, et je vou- 
drais que Ton le persuadat de passer par ici, non pas pour voir 
mais pour etre vu, et nous epargnerions avec plaisir ce qu'on 
donne pour les betes rares pour F employer en cette vue." * 

In a subsequent letter of May 28th to Fuchs, she thanks 
him for his readiness to oblige her, and for the minuteness of 
his relation, and concludes by hoping that the Czar's visit, 
though rather expensive and inconvenient to the Elector now, 

* I heartily accept your offer to give me an exact narration of the Czar's jour- 
ney, for besides being, in common with the rest of my sex, endowed with curi- 
osity, it appears to me to be more allowable in this matter than any other, for it 
is a very uncommon case to see the master incognito with his embassy, and one 
which hitherto has only been carried out in romances. I shall regret very much 
not to see him, and I wish he could be persuaded to pass this way, not to see, but 
to be seen ; and we would spare with pleasure what one gives for rare beasts to 
employ it with this view. 


will be a great advantage to him in future, and by regretting 
much " qu'il ne vienne pas ici avec son ambassade; et quoique 
je suis ennemie de la malproprete, la curiosite Pemporte pour ce 

In another letter, dated 10th June, she still hopes that at 
least, in travelling by land, for safety, he may visit Berlin, and 
that his favourites the ambassadors will induce him to do so. 

On his journey to Amsterdam, Sophia Charlotte's desire to 
see this ' ' wonderful beast of the age," as Vehse calls him, in 
allusion to the foregoing letter, was fully gratified : at her own 
and her mother's request, he consented to meet the two Prin- 
cesses at Koppenbruck, about four German miles from Hanover. 
In a letter to Fuchs, dated July 17th, she thus describes the 
interview : 

"A present je puis vous rendre le pareil Monsieur, car j'ai 
vu le grand Czar. 11 m'avait donne rendezvous & Coppenbrugge, 
ou il ne savait pas que toute la famille serait, ce qui fut cause 
qu'il fallait traiter une heure pour nous le rendre visible ; k la 
fin il s'accorda que Monsieur le Due de Celle, ma mere, mes 
freres, et moi, le viendrions trouver dans la salle ou Fon devait 
souper, et ou il voulut entrer en meme temps par une autre 
porte, pour n'etre pas vu, car le grand moude qu'il avait aperyu 
sur un parapet en entrant, Pavait fait ressortir du village. 
Madame ma mere et moi commenyames a faire notre compli- 
ment ; et il fit repondre M. le Fort pour lui, car il paraissait 
honteux, et se cachait le visage avec la main ' ich kann nicht 
sprechen' mais nous Papprivoisames d'abord, et il se mit a 
table entre madame ma mere et moi, ou chacune Pentretint 
tour & tour et ce fut & qui Pauroit. Quelquefois il repondit 
lui-meme, d'autres fois il le laissait faire & deux truchemens, et 
assureinent il ne dit rien que de fort a. propos, et cela sur tous 
les sujets sur lesquels on le mit, car la vivacite de madame ma 
mere lui a fait bien des questions, et je m'etonne qu'il ne fut 
pas fatigue de la conversation, puisque Pon dit que ce n'est pas 
fort en usage dans son pays. Pour ses grimaces, je les me suis 

F 2 


imaginees pires que je ne les ai trouvees, et quelques unes ne 
sont pas en son pouvoir de corriger. L'on voit aussi qu'il n'a 
pas eu de maitre pour apprendre & manger proprement, mais il y 
a un air naturel et sans contraint dans son fait qui m'a plu, car 
il a fait d'abord com me s'il etait chez-lui, et apres avoir permis 
& tous que les gentilshommes qui servent puissent entrer et 
toutes les dames qu'il avait fait du commencement difficulte de 
voir, il a fait fermer la porte a ses gens et a mis son favori, qu'il 
appelle son bras droit ; aupres, avec ordre de ne laisser sortir 
personne, et a fait venir de grands verres, et donne trois a 
quatre coups a. boire & chacun, en marquant qu'il le faisait 
pour leur faire honneur. 11 leur donnait lui-meme le verre, 
quelqu'un le voulut donner a. Quirini (Sophia Charlotte's page), 
il le reprit dans ses mains et le remit lui-meme dans celles de 
Quirini, ce qui est une politesse a laquelle nous ne nous atten- 
dions pas. Je lui donnai la musique pour voir la mine qu'il y 
ferait, et il dit qu'elle lui plaisait, surtout Ferdinando, qu'il 
recompensa comme les messieurs de la cour avec un verre. 
Nous fumes quatre heures h table pour lui complaire, a boire a. 
la Moscovite, c'est & dire tous a. la fois et debout, & la sante du 
Czar. Frederic ne fut pas oublie, cependant il but peu. Pour 
le voir danser, je fis prier. M. le Fort de nous faire avoir ses 
musiciens qui vinrent apres le repas, ou il ne voulut pas com- 
mencer qu'il n'eut vu auparavant comment nous dansions, ce 
que nous fimes pour lui complaire, et pour le voir faire k lui 
aussi. II ne put, et ne voulut pas commencer qu'il n'eut des 
gants, et il en fit chercher par tout son train sans pouvoir en 
trouver. Madame ma mere dansait avec le gros commissaire 
(Golofkin), et devant M. le Fort menait le tout avec la fille 
de la Comtesse Platen, et le Chancelier (Wotznicin) avec la 
mere; cela alia fort gravement, et la danse Moscovite fut 
trouvee jolie. Enfin tous furent fort contents du grand Czar, 
et il le parut aussi; je voudrais que vous le fussiez aussi de 
la relation que je vous en fais. Si vous le trouvez a propos 
vous pouvez en divertir Monsieur 1'Electeur. En voilk assez 


pour vous lasser, mais je ne saurai qu'y faire ; j'aime & parler 
du Czar, et si je me croyais, je vous dirai plus que je reste 
bien affectionnee & vous servir, 


" P.S. Lefou du Czar aparce aussi, qui est bien sot, cepen- 
dant nous avons eu envie de rire de voir que son maitre prenoit 
un grand balai et se mit & le balayer." * 

* This and the preceding letters are copied from Ennan's " Mem. pour servir & 
1'Hist de S. C." 

"At present I can return your good offices, sir, for I have seen the great Czar. 
He gave me the rendezvous at Coppenbrugge, but he did not know that all the 
family would be there, for which reason we had to treat for an hour before he 
would consent to make himself visible ; finally, he conceded that M. le Due de 
Celle, my mother, my brothers, and myself should meet him in the hall where we 
were to sup, whither he would come himself by another door, in order not to be 
seen, for the concourse of people whom he had observed assembled upon the para- 
pets on entering the village, had caused him to leave it again as quickly. Madame 
my mother and I began to pay him our compliments, and he made M. le Fort 
reply for him, for he appeared bashful, and hid his face with his hand "ich 
kann nicht sprechen" but we soon tamed him, and he seated himself at table 
between inadame my mother and me, whilst each of us conversed with him by 
turns, as either wished it. Sometimes he replied himself, at others he allowed 
two interpreters to do it, and certainly he said nothing which was not very much 
to the purpose ; and that upon all subjects on which he was tried, for the vivacity 
of madame my mother suggested all sorts of questions ; and I am astonished that 
he was not fatigued with the conversation, since it is said that it is not very much 
the custom in his country. 

"As to his grimaces, I had imagined them to be worse than I found them ; 
some of them it really is not in his power to correct. It may be seen that he has 
not had a master to teach him to eat with cleanliness, but there is a natural and 
unconstrained air about him which pleased me, for from the first he acted as if he 
were at home, and after having given permission for all the gentlemen in attend- 
ance to enter, as well as all the ladies whom at first he had made a difficulty about 
seeing, he ordered his people to shut the door, and placed his favourite, whom he 
calls his right arm, near it, with orders not to let any one leave the room. He 
then ordered great glasses to be brought and gave three or four cups of wine to 
each of them to drink, remarking that he did so to do them honour ; he gave 
them the glass himself ; some one was about to give it to Quirini (Sophia Char- 
lotte's page), but he took it back into his hand, and placed it himself in that of 
Quirini, an act of politeness which we did not expect. I gave him some music to 
see how he would like it. He said that it pleased him. Ferdinando he admired 
especially, and recompensed him as he had done the gentlemen of the court, with 
a glass of wine. We remained four hours at table to please him, and drank a la 


A letter from the Electress Sophia, dated Herrenhausen, 
llth August, 1697, adds some further details of this curious 
visit, on which she was accompanied by her three sons, George 
Louis, Christian, and Ernest Augustus, the fourth, Maximilian 
William, having left Hanover.* " The Czar is very tall, his 
features are beautiful, and his figure very noble ; he has much 
vivacity of mind, prompt and just repartee; but with all the 
advantages which nature has bestowed upon him, it is^ to be 
wished that his manners were a little less rough ,"f 

15th September, she writes " I might embellish the recital 
of the journey of the illustrious Czar if I were to tell you that 
he is alive to the charms of beauty ; but, to confess the fact, I 
perceived no disposition to gallantry in him, and if we had not 
made such a point of seeing him, I do believe that he would 
not have troubled his head about us. In his country it is the 

Moscovite, that is to say, all at once standing, to the health of the Czar. Frederic 
was not forgotten : however, he drank but little. To see him dance, I caused M. 
le Fort to be asked to let us have his musicians, who came after the repast. He 
would not begin till he saw how we danced ; which, to gratify him, as well as to 
see him dance himself, we did : but he could not, and would not begin till he had 
some gloves ; he caused some to be sought for amidst his whole train without suc- 
ceeding in finding any. Madame my mother danced with the great Commissary 
(Golofkin), whilst M. le Fort led off with the daughter of the Countess Platen, 
and the Chancellor Wotznicin danced with her mother. This went off with great 
gravity, and the Moscovite dance was pronounced pretty. In fine, all were much 
pleased with the great Czar, and he appeared to be pleased also. I hope that you 
may be so too with the account I give you of him. If you find it a propos you 
can divert Monsieur the Elector with it. Here is enough to tire you, but I could 
not help it ; I like to speak of the Czar, and if I attended to my wishes, I should 
tell you more, instead of saying, I remain well disposed to serve you, 


" P.S. The Czar's fool also made his appearance : he is very stupid, but it 
made us laugh to see his master take a great broom and begin to sweep him." 

* Maximilian William of Hanover had engaged with Frederic von Moltke in a 
conspiracy to set aside the right of primogenital succession of his elder brother. 
Sophia Charlotte is said to have warned her father of this by letter as early as the 
year 1691. The conspiracy was discovered, and punished in the case of Moltke, 
by death, after the failure of two attempts to escape in that of the Prince by an 
imprisonment of several years ; on being set at liberty he went to Vienna, an 
there embraced the Roman Catholic religion in 1701. 

f Erman. 


custom for all the women* to lay on white and red, and paint is 
one of the essential parts of the wedding presents which they 
receive. This is the reason that the Countess Platen particu- 
larly charmed the Muscovites. But in dancing, they took our 
whalebone corsets for our bones, and the Czar testified his 
astonishment by saying that the German ladies "ont les os 
diablement durs." * In another letter she mentions the 
Czar's four dwarfs. "Two of them were well-proportioned. 
The Czar sometimes kissed them, and sometimes pinched their 
ears. He took our little Princess (Sophia Dorothea, then 
about ten years old, afterwards Queen of Prussia) by the head, 
and kissed her twice, by which her fontange was very much 
deranged. He also kissed her brother " (afterwards George II., 
who was then sixteen). 

She also relates that "the Czar and Sophia Charlotte 
exchanged snuff-boxes, and that he made both ladies feel the 
callosities of his hands, caused by his labours in the dock- 

From this much talked-of visit of the great Czar we must 
return to the course of events at the Court of Berlin. It is 
to a conversation of Sophia Charlotte with the clergyman 
Jablonsky that the origin of one of the finest institutions in 
Berlin, the Academy of Sciences, may be traced. She lamented 
that that city should have neither observatory nor calendar of 
its own. The observation struck Jablonsky, who reported it to 
Danckelmann, and that minister proposed it as worthy of the 
Elector's consideration. Frederic, as usual, mindful of his 
great French cotemporary, of whom in so many things he 
offered a humble imitation,-)* having reflected that science was 
" the thing " at Paris, conceived that perhaps it ought also to 
be the thing at Berlin, and from this small commencement we 

* Erman. 

"I* Frederic is said to have been so fervent an admirer of Louis XIV. that to 
introduce any subject to his favourable consideration it was only necessary to say 
that the French monarch had expressed an interest in something similar. 


shall have to notice the gradual rise of that important 
institution which we have just mentioned. 

The death of the Elector Ernest Augustus, which took place 
in 1698, made a great and melancholy change in the position 
of the Electress Sophia. Although as a husband he had not 
always been faithful to her, yet he had unvaryingly treated her 
with the greatest esteem and confidence, and had allowed her 
opinion greatly to influence his actions. " She did not rule 
him, but she ruled with him/'* and her firm, cheerful co- 
operation lightened to him the cares of the government, in 
which she participated. Leibnitz speaks with tenderness of 
the kind-heartedness and integrity of the deceased sovereign, 
especially of his abhorrence of calumny and of all reports 
brought to him to the disadvantage of others. j- 

On the accession of his eldest son Prince George Louis to 
the electorate, not only was Sophia carefully excluded from all 
share in the government, but she was even treated with a con- 
siderable degree of coldness and mistrust by the new Elector. 
The loss of her husband, and this conduct on the part of her 
son, naturally drew yet closer the bonds of affection which 
had always so strictly united her with her beloved daughter, 
and we henceforth find the frequency of their reciprocal visits 
much increased, more especially because the mediation of 
Sophia was usually needed in the misunderstandings which now 
frequently took place between the Court of Hanover and that 
of Berlin; for she possessed and exercised more influence over 
the mind of Frederic than Sophia Charlotte had ever even 
sought -to acquire. 

It was now also that the great question of the possibility of 
the union of the Protestant churches of Germany came into 
active discussion between the Courts of Berlin and Hanover; 
and, with an equal interest in the cause, neither Sophia of 
Hanover, nor her daughter, were inclined to remain idle spec- 
tators of so momentous an affair. The correspondence was 

* Guhrauer's Life of Leibnitz. t Ibid. 


carried on, on the one side by the court preacher, Jablonsky^ 
who commenced it by order of the Electress, March 5, 1698; 
and on the other by Leibnitz, "the architect and primum mobile 
of the whole work," as Jablonsky entitled him, who was sup* 
ported by all the influence of Sophia of Hanover. 

This most desirable object occupied the minds and employed 
the pens of most of the thinking men of the day. It called 
forth from Leibnitz his " Tentamen Irenicum," and from " the 
German Fenelon," " The Man with the Angel's Soul, the noble 
and gentle" Spener,* his " Reflexiones." 

Jablonsky, when speaking of these two works, said, that he 
" prayed the gracious providence of God to make use of them 
to remove from the way those two heaviest stones of stumbling, 
the disputes upon Predestination and Election, and upon the 
Holy Sacrament/' 

In one of Sophia's letters to him, written during the period 
of the discussion, she says, that as Christianity came into the 
world by a woman, how glorious a thing would it be for her 
if this great work should be effected by her means ! Effected, 
however, it was not destined to be ; for, after several years of 
negotiation, the question was allowed to fall to the ground 
without result. 

A great change had taken place in the administration of 
Berlin towards the close of the last year, owing to the disgrace 
of Danckelmann. This minister, who had formerly been 
governor to Frederic in his youth, was one of seven brothers. 
He had been considered a prodigy of learning in his boyhood, 
and had disputed publicly at twelve years old ; he had after- 

* Vehse thus characterizes Spener, and gives the following particulars respect- 
ing him. He was the founder of the so-called "Pietists," a sect professing a 
modified form of Lutheranism ; their principal resort was Halle, where the lives 
of such men as the pious and active Francke, and the enlightened Thomasius, the 
first vindicator of the rights of the German language, reflected honour upon their 
profession. Spener lived for fourteen years in Berlin, where he contracted an 
intimate friendship with Fuchs, Canitz the poet, and others of the best men of 
the day. He died in 1705, a few days after the decease of Queen Sophia 


wards attracted the attention of the great Elector, who ap- 
pointed him at twenty to the charge of governor to the 
electoral Prince ; he had attached himself deeply to his pupil, 
and had twice, it is said, saved his life.* On the accession of 
Frederic, by a rapid promotion, he passed from office to office, 
till in the year 1695, at the meeting of the seven brothers 
Danckelmann the Pleiades, as they were then called all high 
in office, f Frederic appointed him his Prime Minister. The 
brothers were ennobled by the Emperor the same year, and to 
the arms which they already bore, was added the device of seven 
sceptres united by a ring. 

During the administration of Danckelmann, a the Colbert 
of Brandenburg," the revenue had increased by 150,000 
Thalers annually, thus proving the wisdom of his administration, 
in that respect at least. Nevertheless, 5 his prosperity was as 
short-lived as it was brilliant, and that owing in a great measure 
to the natural arrogance of his disposition. Not only did he 
incur the ill-will of the other courtiers by the hauteur of his 
demeanour towards them, but in his intercourse with the 
Elector himself, it is said, he could not forget that the latter 
had once been his pupil, and even sometimes proceeded to 
tutor him upon his conduct, in a manner which could not 
fail to be highly displeasing to Frederic. Indeed, once the 
Prime Minister interfered to prevent an intended journey of 
the Electress to Frankfort-on-the-Oder, by telling her that the 
tc Treasury coffers were not full." An anecdote is also on 
record of his behaviour to the other courtiers. Upon one occa- 
sion, coming late into church, when the sermon had already 

* Once, at the period of the pretended poisoning in 1680, and again in 1687, 
when on occasion of an illness of Frederic's, Danckelmann bled him, contrary to 
the advice of the physicians. 

+ A coin bearing the device of one large star, and six smaller ones emerging 
from the clouds over the city of Berlin, with a Latin motto, was struck at this 
period. Count C. Dohna gives Danckelmann credit for this, and says that he, 
Count D., pointed it out as if accidentally to the Elector, who was highly indignant 
at the arrogance of his Prime Minister. 


commenced, the Field-Marshal Barfuss and Kolbe Wartenberg 
(both of whom afterwards succeeded in turn to the Premier- 
ship), were speaking together, Danckelmann pushed between 
them with the words, " Gentlemen, why do you not make room 
for me ? " Kolbe immediately did so, replying, " There is 
room here." The Prime Minister, however, in acknowledg- 
ment, only said to him with cold hauteur, " It is your duty, 
sir, to make way for me." 

Danckelmann was a man of a saturnine and melancholy 
temperament ; a gloomy foreboding of his approaching disgrace 
constantly hovered before his mind; he was never seen to 
smile. He gave a magnificent fete as a house-warming of his 
newly-built palace, and on this occasion, whilst the rest of 
the company were dancing in the great hall, it chanced that 
Frederic found himself alone with his Prime Minister, in the 
latter 7 s private cabinet. Several beautiful pictures hung upon 
the walls, and the Elector paused to admire them. With an 
air of yet deeper gloom gathering over his fine, but dark coun- 
tenance, Danckelmann, as if overshadowed by the spirit of 
prophecy, pronounced solemnly, " Those pictures, as well as 
all the rest of my possessions, will soon be in your hands. 
My enemies will succeed in robbing me of your favour ; I 
shall be disgraced and imprisoned." Frederic, much moved by 
the mournful solemnity of this prediction, placed his hand upon 
a Bible which by chance lay upon the table, and gave him a 
solemn promise that these things should never take place, and 
that he would listen to no reports inimical to him. Despite 
the Elector's promise, however, the prophecy was fully accom- 
plished ; although, had not Danckelmann strenuously opposed 
the pet project of the kingdom, it is probable that the ascend- 
ancy which his powerful understanding had gained over Frede- 
ric's weak mind, would have defeated all the efforts of his 
enemies, of whom Barfuss, Wartenberg, and Christopher Dohna 
were the chief. Shortly after the peace of Ryswick the minister 
gave in his resignation, which was accepted by Frederic in 


November, 1697. Danckelmann remained still at Berlin for a 
short time, preparatory to retiring to his estate. On the evening 
of the 10th of December, Frederic, with a duplicity of which 
he was rarely guilty, conversed with him in the most friendly 
manner, and bid him adieu before his departure, which was to 
take place the next day. That same night Danckelmann was 
arrested, his effects sealed, and himself conveyed to the fortress 
of Spandau. He remained in prison till 1707, when, on the 
occasion of the birth of Fredericks first grandson, he was re- 
leased, and allowed to live at Cotbus, on condition of not leaving 
the kingdom. He was succeeded in his office by his old enemy 
Barfuss, who only retained it till 1701, when Count Kolbe 
Wartenberg became premier.* 

The projected Academy, or, as it was at first called, Society 
of Sciences, was now fast assuming shape and consistency, and 
the death of the learned PuiFendorf, in Sept., 1699, seemed to 
afford an opening for the accomplishment of Sophia Charlotte's 
earnest desire to place Leibnitz at the head of the new associa- 
tion. Jablonsky was directed by her to invite him to Berlin, 
but owing to his occupations at Hanover, he was at that time 
unable to accept the invitation. In the ensuing year Jablonsky 
(March 1) received instructions formally to offer the presi- 
dentship of the Academy to the philosopher. Leibnitz accepted 
the post, and shortly afterwards came to Berlin. Let me here 
give a short description of this celebrated man, the chief of 
Sophia Charlotte's most highly honoured friends. He was born 
at Leipzig in 1646. His earliest youth was devoted to the 
study of jurisprudence, but he soon became known for his 
scientific attainments ; he visited England several times, and 
corresponded with Newton, and others of our learned men. 
The work on which he expended the greatest labour, and for 

* Pollnitz and Vehse. A powerful faction, headed by Count Donh off, (brother of 
the former Oberstkiimmerer, Count Frederic, to whose office Kolbe succeeded, ) and 
the Dohnas, and supported by the Queen, endeavoured, though unsuccessfully, 
to overthrow the new Minister in 1702. Upon the failure of their attempt 
Db'nhoff and the Dohnas retired from Court. 


which he had collected an immense mass of materials, yet which 
at his death existed only as a sort of sketch of his ultimate inten- 
tion, was to have been a history of Brunswick, preceded by a 
geographical account of the territory, with its natural produc- 
tions, &c. He was a devoted adherent of the house of Hanover, 
and here he spent most of his time, until his appointment to 
the Academy of Sciences called him to Berlin, where, until the 
death of the Queen, his residences were frequent and length- 
ened ; so much so, that it excited in some degree the jealousy of 
the Elector of Hanover, who, upon one occasion, when a fall in 
which he hurt his leg had confined Leibnitz to his bed and 
thus prevented his leaving Berlin, sent him word that " he 
had need of the services of his head, and not of those of his 

After the death of the " Philosophical Queen," the attention 
which had been called to the prosecution of scientific pursuits 
was suffered to slacken, and, as a natural consequence, the lustre 
of the Academy also greatly declined ; incompetent professors 
were suffered to fill the chair, and Leibnitz mourned at once 
the loss of his patroness and friend, and the decline of the in?- 
stitution which had been so cherished by her. He revisited 
Berlin for the last time in 1711. The death of his old, firm 
friend Sophia of Hanover, in 1713, was another shock to his 
declining health, and he himself died in 1716, having vainly 
attempted to write down some yet unuttered remnant of his 
wisdom only a few hours before his death. In person he was 
tall, and nobly formed ; the expression of his features was at 
once bold, open, and benevolent ; * and the veneration and 
esteem in which he was held by Royalty itself, speak sufficiently 
as to the character of the man. In his religious views he was 
perhaps somewhat of a latitudinarian ; yet there could be no 
more doubt of his Christianity than of that of his disciple, 
Sophia Charlotte, upon whose religious principles the aspersions 
that have been cast were, beyond question, unjust. 

* Gahrauer's Life of Leibnitz, and Varnhagen von Ense's Life of S. C. 


Great and learned man as Leibnitz undoubtedly was, he, 
judging from his writings, does not appear to have been fully 
master of either of those languages in which he habitually wrote 
and spoke. His Latin is laboured and inelegant ; the German 
language (of which Frederic the Great says that, even so late as 
his day, the only liberty which the Germans enjoyed in its use 
was in permitting themselves to make a most barbarous 
" estropiage" of it) he totally neglected, although at the same 
time he regretted the disuse of it, and recommended its cultiva- 
tion ; whilst in his French correspondence, so far from finding 
either freedom or elegance, we meet with faults which would 
disgrace the theme of a school-girl of modern days ; but of this 
the reader will have the opportunity of judging, as I shall 
presently have occasion to insert one of his letters to the 
Electress of Hanover. 

The inauguration of the institution of the Academy of 
Sciences at Berlin, took place on the Elector's birthday, July 
11, 1700, and in honour of both events Sophia Charlotte 
gave a magnificent fete at Liitzenburg, or " Lustenburg,"* as 
the Electress of Hanover took pleasure in naming it, in reply 
to the accounts she received of the gay festivals which took 
place there. Of this fete Leibnitz sent her a detailed account 
in a letter, part of which I will transcribe, were it only that the 
character of the delassement in which such minds as those of 
Leibnitz and Sophia Charlotte (the former perhaps somewhat 
unwillingly) could participate, must interest, though it may 
at the same time excite surprise. Nor will that emotion be 
lessened at finding the " classic pen" directed by that mighty 
mind, " that planet which was sent down to enlighten the dark- 
ness of earth's gloomy paths of ignorance" of whom Fontenelle 
said that, were he decomposed, enough wisdom would be found 
to form three or four other great philosophers employed in 
describing, to use the mildest term, such puerilities. The 
letter is dated July 13, 1700 : 

* Castle of Pleasure. 


" Madame, Quoique j'imagine que Madame PElectrice fera 
& votre altesse electorate une description de la masquerade 
com ique, ou dela foire de village, represented hier au Theatre 
de Liitzenbourg, j'en veux pourtant aussi dire quelque chose. 
Le directeur en etait Monsieur d'Osten, qui a ete dans les bonnes 
graces du feu Roi de Danemarc. On avait regie le tout fort a 
la hate, pour etre execute le jour destine & celebrer la naissance 
de FElecteur, c'est a dire le douzieme, quoique Fonzieme, qui 
etait le dimanche passe, soit le vrai jour natal. On representa 
done une foire de village, ou de petite ville, ou il y avait des 
boutiques avec leurs enseignes, et Fon y vendait pour rien, des 
jambons, saucisses, langues de bosuf, des vins et limonades, du 
the, cafe, chocolat, et drogues semblables. C'etait Monsieur le 
Margrave, Christian Louis (brother of the Elector), Monsieur 
d'Obdam (the Dutch ambassador), Monsieur de Hamel (the 
general of that name), et autres, qui tenaient ces boutiques ; 
Monsieur d'Osten, faisant le docteur empirique, avait ses 
arlequins et saltimbanques ; parmi lesquels se mela agreable- 
ment Monseigneur le Margrave Albert (also a brother of the 
Elector). Le docteur avait aussi des sauteurs, qui etaient, si je ne 
me trompe, Monsieur le Comte de Solms et Monsieur de 
Wassennaer. Mais rien ne fut plus joli que son joueur de 
gobelets ; c'etait Monseigneur le Prince Electoral (Frederic Wil- 
liam, then in his twelfth year), qui a appris effectivement k 
jouer Fhocus pocus. 

" Madame PElectrice etait la doctoresse qui tenait la boutique 
de Forvietan. Monsieur Desaleurs (the French Envoy) faisait 
tres bien le personnage de Farracheur de dents. A Fouverture 
du theatre parut Fentree solennelle de monsieur le docteur, 
monte sur une fa9on d^elephante, et madame la doctoresse se fit 
voir aussi portee en chair par ses Turcs.* Le joueur de gobe- 
lets, les bouffons, les sauteurs et Parracheur de dents vinrent 
apres, et quand toute la suite du docteur fut passee, il se fit un 
petit ballet de Bohemiennes, des dames de la cour, sous un chef 

* The Electress had two Turkish pages, All and Hassan, amongst her suite, as 
well as a Turkish female attendant, named Fatima they were all baptized. 


qui etait Madame la Princesse de Hohenzollern (a sister of Ziii- 
zendorf, the Imperial Prime Minister), et quelques autres s'y 
melerent pour danser. On vit aussi paraltre un astrologue, la 
lunette ou la telescope a la main. Ce devait etre mon person- 
nage. Mais Monsieur le Comte de Wittgenstein in'en releva 
charitablement. II fit des predictions avantageuses a Monsieur 
PElecteur, qui regardait de la plus prochaine loge Madame la 
Princesse de Hohenzollern, principale Bohemienne, et se prit de 
dire la bonne avanture a Madame PElectrice le plus agreable- 
ment du monde en vers alleniands fort jolis, qui etaient de la 
fafon de Monsieur de Besser (one of the few German poets of 
the day, and also the master of the ceremonies). Monsieur de 
Quirini (a Venetian mentioned before as one of the pages) 
etait valet de chambre de madame la doctoresse, et moi, je me 
plagai avantageusement pour voir tout de pres avec mes petites 
lunettes, et pour en faire rapport & votre altesse electorale. La 
demoiselle de Madame la Princesse de Hohenzollern avait mal 
aux dents ; et Parracheur, les tenailles de marechal a la main, 
faisant son metier, fit paraltre une dent de cheval marin. Le 
docteur, louant les prouesses de son arracheur, laissa juger & 
Passemblee combien il fallait etre a droit, pour tirer une telle 
dent sans faire du mal. Parmi les malades qui demandaient 
des remedes, etaient Messieurs d'Alefeld et de Fleming envoyes 
de Danemark et de Pologne, et notre Monsieur d'llten (the 
Hanoverian Minister), vetus en paysans de leurs pays, chacun 
ayant sa chacune. Madame la Grande Marechal (the Grafin 
Lottuin) etait la fern me de Parracheur, et Paidait & mettre en 
ordre ses drogues et instruments ; il en etait de meme des 
autres. Plusieurs entremelerent adroitement des voeux pour 
PElecteur et PElectrice; Monsieur d'Obdam en flammand, 
Monsieur Flemming en bon pommerien. 

" C'etait au reste la tour de Babel, car chacun y parlait sa 
langue ; et Monsieur d'Obdam, pour faire plaisir a madame la 
doctoresse, chanta le chanson de 1' Amour medecin, qui finit par 
la grande puissance de Porvietan. Aussi celui qui vantait une 
telle doctoresse, ne pouvait manquer d'en avoir. 


" Sur la fin vint un trouble fete. Monsieur de Reisewitz, 
envoye de Saxe en Pologne, faisant le docteur ordinaire du lieu, 
ou stadtphysikus, qui attaquait 1'empirique. C'etait un combat 
en paroles assez plaisantes. L'empirique ayant montre ses 
papiers, parchemins, privileges et attestations des empereurs, 
rois et princes, le stadtphysikus s'en moqua, et montra de 
belles medailles d'or pendues a son col et a celui de madame sa 
femme, disant que c'etait par son habilite qu'il avait acquis de 
telles pieces, et que cela marquait plus reellement son savoir 
faire que des papiers ramasses. 

" Enfin Monseigneur 1'Electeur descendit lui-meme de sa loge, 
travesti en matelot hollandais, et acheta par-ci, par-la les bou- 
tiques de la foire. II y avait de la musique dans 1'orchestre et 
tous ceux qui ont ete presents, qui n'etaient ou ne devaient etre 
que des gens de la cour, ou de distinction, ont avoue qu'un 
opera, qui aurait coute de rnilliers d'ecus, aurait donne bien 
moins de plaisir aux acteurs aussi bien qu'aux spectateurs." * 

This fete lasted till late in the night. Leibnitz, in writing to 
one of his friends, says, after a similar occasion, " I lead here a 
life which Madame the Electress calls after me, a ' liederlich 
Leben/ and I find myself very much disordered, and out of my 
element." The Duchess of Orleans also, to whom her sister 
Sophia regularly transmitted Leibnitz's letters, says, in allu- 
sion to the gaieties of the Prussian Court, " da muss es toll 

In addition to this minute description of how the great 
folks were entertained by seeing a walrus's tusk drawn from 
the mouth of a beautiful young lady, and how the crown 
Prince " learned effectively to play the hocus-pocus/' were I to 
give the description furnished by the court poet and Master of 
the Ceremonies, Besser, of the daily course of the festivities 
attendant upon the marriage of the king's daughter by his first 
wife (the Princess of Hesse Cassel), beginning upon the 28th 

* This letter is a transcript from the copy which Vehse gives in his ' ' Preussis- 
chen Hof." 


of May (of the same year) and continuing till June 10th, it 
would give a better idea of the half-barbarous state of society 
as it then existed; but it would occupy too much space, and 
not afford sufficient interest to justify its insertion. I content 
myself, therefore, with a summary. 

The Princess Louisa was married to her cousin, the hereditary 
prince of Hesse Cassel. She was arrayed upon this occasion 
in a dress of silver stuff, which weighed a centner.* The train 
of this ponderous robe was of golden point d'Espagne. It was 
seven ells in length, and was in such perfect keeping with the 
rest of the dress that, on account of its great weight, besides 
the six bridesmaids who carried it, two " special bride pages " 
were required to help to sustain the burthen. In this truly 
rich attire, the bride, with her six bridesmaids and two pages 
attached, danced the torch dance. She was at length carried 
off, perfectly exhausted with the fatigue of supporting the 
fc allzugrosse Schwere" of her dress, to her apartment, where 
she went through the further performance of seizing blindfold 
three persons out of the circle which danced round her, and 
placing her crown upon their heads, thus predicting that they 
would be the next to follow her example in adopting the state 
of matrimony. Finally, after the ceremonies of the toilette, 
she had to present one of her garters to her father, and the 
other to her father-in-law, each of the gentlemen gallantly 
winding it round the handle of his sword. The next ten days 
were, with the exception of the intervening Sunday, a succes- 
sion of balls, operas, illuminations, processions, &c., &c. It is 
evident that a royal bride in those days required considerable 
physical strength to go through all the ceremonials attendant 
upon her marriage. 

But weightier affairs were now to call for Sophia Charlotte's 
attention. Frederic had found numberless obstacles opposed 
to his claims upon the regal dignity, both by the Court of 
Austria and those of the other European Powers. Negotia- 

* One hundred weight. 


tion languished and dragged on in interminable tedium, when a 
new expedient was suggested which he was anxious to adopt, 
to try what might be accomplished by the powers of fascina- 
tion of his wife and mother-in-law, two of the most charming 
women in Europe. 

No difficulty in the execution of this plan was anticipated 
from Sophia of Hanover, who exulted in politics and nego- 
tiation, and wished, above all things, to see her daughter a 
queen, but from Sophia Charlotte, who disliked everything con- 
nected with both. The proposition, however, was made to 
her that she, with her mother, under pretext that her health 
required the waters of Aix-la-Chapelle, should visit William of 
Orange at the Hague, and the Duke of Bavaria at Brussels, 
and try their powers of persuasion in furtherance of the cause. 
After some consideration the Electress replied, that on condi- 
tion not only of payment of her expenses, but of a considerable 
augmentation to her income, which she found inadequate to her 
outlay, she would undertake the commission. Pollnitz describes 
with humour the comical negotiation which took place between 
her and Wartenberg, who undertook to increase her income 
provided that she would admit his wife to her assemblies. I 
must here explain the position which Madame Wartenberg 
held, in order to show why such a stipulation should have 
been necessary. Graf Kolbe was a nobleman of the Palatinate, 
who had made his first visit to Berlin in the train of Mary 
of Orange, sister of the great Elector's first wife, Louisa. He 
returned thither, and accepted office in 1690, and became 
Chamberlain after Count Frederic DonhofPs death. He had 
been protected and assisted in attaining this office by Danckel- 
mann, to whose pride, reserve, and melancholy his gay 
disposition and easy manners offered a contrast which proved 
but too agreeable to the Elector ; and very unscrupulously did 
the gay and polished courtier use the stately Prime Minister as 
a ladder to prosperity, and with equally little remorse did he, 
that elevation gained, help to kick down the means which had 

G 2 


enabled him to mount. His wife was the fair daughter of a 
wine-merchant of the Rhine. Her beauty had attracted the atten- 
tion of Biedekap, one of the royal valets- de-chambre, who had 
espoused and brought her to Berlin. Here Kolbe saw her, and 
she became his mistress. Her children by Biedekap were after- 
wards ennobled by the mediation of Frederic, with the title 
of Baron and Baroness of Aspach. After Biedekap' s death 
Kolbe married her, and introduced her to the Elector, who, it 
is said, in his imitation of even the vices of his magnificent 
model at Versailles, thought it incumbent on him to have, at 
least, a nominal mistress, and accordingly promoted the beauti- 
ful Madame Kolbe Wartenberg to that post ; but the lady was 
ambitious, and though no doubt she had elevated herself con- 
siderably in her own estimation, still something was lacking 
to her complement of satisfaction the Electress would not 
hear of receiving her, or even of knowing that there was a 
Madame Kolbe Wartenberg in existence, and consequently, 
the court ladies turned up their noses at her, or ignored her 
existence likewise. But now presented itself a literally golden 
opportunity, which must not be allowed to slip. The usually 
unapproachable Electress wanted money. One day Count 
Christopher Dohna presented himself before the Electress, 
and introduced his errand thus : " I am commissioned with 
the most absurd business in the world ; will your Highness 
allow me to disburden myself of it ? La Kolbe languishes to 
be allowed to appear in your presence. She wishes it so 
vehemently, that perhaps she will die of grief if you do not 
accord her this permission. Think what a loss ! Would you, 
on account of a little ceremony, rob the Court of its fairest 

" That is indeed being a skilful messenger," said Sophia 
Charlotte, laughing ; " but I am not surprised you come 
fresh gilded from your embassy to England. You have a taste 
for negotiation, I see, and are destined to become famous in 

* "Mem." Count C. Dohna. 


it. But, seriously, what do you advise me ? " " Nothing ; 
Heaven preserve me from advising your Highness in such a 
case. I have discharged my commission ; that is enough for 
me." " You jest, but the affair is more disagreeable to me 
than you imagine : an answer is necessary, and it embarrasses 
me. Now well, if her husband can so manage that the 
Elector commands it, I will consent to receive her." The 
Elector, however, did not give the command, and Madame 
Wartenberg had not as yet the honour of a reception by the 
Electress. The journey to Aix la Chapelle was, nevertheless, 
resolved upon, and actually undertaken in May, 1700. Leib- 
nitz, who was taking the baths of Toplitz, was honoured by an 
invitation to accompany the two ladies, but was unable to 
accept it. 

At Brussels the two Electresses were most courteously re- 
ceived by the Duke of Bavaria; not so, however, by his beau- 
tiful Polish termagant of a wife,* who, during her sojourn in 
Berlin in 1695, on her road to join her husband, had signalized 
herself by the most monstrous infractions of court etiquette. 
She was excessively jealous of Sophia Charlotte's far-famed 
beauty, and she now refused to appear with her in public. 
Sophia Charlotte treated this discourtesy lightly, and amused 
herself by various pleasantries upon it with the Duke, to whom 
upon one occasion she laughingly said, " Without flattering 
myself, I really think that I should have suited you better for 
a wife than the Duchess. You love pleasure; I by no means 
hate it ; you are gallant ; I am not jealous ; you would never 
see me out of temper; and I think we should have made a 
very happy marriage of it." 

The two ladies were exposed to a frightful storm on their sub- 
sequent journey between Antwerp and Rotterdam, which, how- 
ever, only alarmed them. They here made acquaintance with two 
of the learned men of the age, Bayle and Basnage. The former 
was ill in bed, when a notification of the honour to which he 
* Theresa Cunegonde, daughter of John Sobiesky. 


was invited reached him, and he excused his non-appearance on 
the ground of his indisposition ; however, the skilful ambassador 
Dohna was sent to negotiate, and in the end the philosopher 
made himself visible. He appears to have been greatly struck 
by the mental endowments and amiable manners of the illus- 
trious travellers, who, he said, " pleased less by their rank than 
by their learning and enlightenment." 

The issue of the interviews both with the Elector of Bavaria 
and the King of England was entirely successful. Both pro- 
mised their support to Fredericks cause, and Sophia of Hanover 
likewise obtained from William the promise that her family 
should be called to the succession of the English throne/'* 

The final consent of Austria also was obtained at length by 
a curious, though fortunate, mistake.f Count Dohna, who 
was Prussian ambassador at Vienna, despairing of the success 
of his mission, had applied for and received a recall. Imme- 
diately after his departure a despatch arrived, directing that 
the sum which Count Kinksy had rejected should be offered 
to another minister; the Prussian resident, Bartholdi, took 
the name of this minister, which was written in cipher, for 
that of Father Wolff, a Jesuit, the Emperor's confessor, and 
applied himself to him. Wolff, who was high in the Emperor's 
favour, felt himself flattered that so powerful a Prince should 
have sought his assistance, and used all his influence in 
Frederic's behalf; and the result was, that the Emperor con- 
ceded the royalty of Prussia. Other authors give a slightly 
different account of this affair; the result, however, is certain. 

And now Frederic turned all his thoughts to the prepara- 
tions for his coronation, which was to take place as soon as 
possible ; and here was a grand field for the exercise of his 
ever-growing passion for silk and velvet, gold, silver and pre- 
cious stones, glittering processions and rare shows; and here 
was torture in prospect for the show-despising Electress, who, 
in an unwonted fit of ill-humour, gave vent to her contempt for 

* Pollnitz. t Ibid. 


the part of " Reine de theatre," that she was about to play in 
Berlin with her "Prussian .ZEsop.", 

Madame de Wartenberg caused a terrible " Remora," says 
Count C. Dohna, in the arrangements for the ceremony of the 
coronation, by urgently insisting that the right of bearing the 
train of the Queen pertained to her. No expostulation of her 
husband availed to dissuade her j in vain did he suggest that 
the ceremony was long that she would be too much fatigued ; 
she was not to be put off. In his perplexity and distress, 
knowing how unpalatable this would be to Frederic, and that 
Sophia Charlotte would never consent, he applied to Count C. 
Dohna, and conjured him to try his powers of persuasion upon 
the lady. " Frankly," says the latter, " I pitied poor Colb, 
although I could not help laughing, that a man who governed 
his master could not govern his own wife ;" knowing then that 
"poor Colb" feared her "like fire," Dohna undertook the 
difficult commission, and, after incurring a storm of abuse 
from the fair lady, who finally burst into tears of rage and dis- 
appointment, he gained a victory which once more did infinite 
credit to his skill as an ambassador. 

Frederic selected Konigsberg as the scene of his coronation, 
both because it was his birth-place, and because the name was 
one of good omen.* And thither on the 17th December, 1700, 
with a train of 300 carriages and 3000 horses, journeyed the 
Elector and Electress of Brandenburg, thence to return as King 
and Queen of Prussia. The coronation took place January 15th, 
1701, and on that day, in the great hall of the Castle, at eight 
o'clock in the morning, appeared Frederic, arrayed in a scarlet 
coat every one of whose buttons was worth 3000 ducats, with 

* A Konigsberg poet, named Bodecker, on the occasion of Frederic's birth, 
during her residence at that place, presented Louisa of Orange with the following 
prophetic verses : 

" Nascitur in Regis Fredericus Monte. 

Quid Istud ? 
Prsedicunt Musse ; Rex Fredericus erit." 

Wegfiihrer's "Life of Louisa of Orange." 


a purple velvet mantle, covered over and over and stiff with gold 
embroidered crowns and eagles, and clasped by an agraffe of 
three diamonds worth a ton of gold, with a gold sceptre in his 
hand, surmounted by the great ruby that the Czar Peter had 
presented to him ; and already he felt himself a king in every 
inch of his small stature as he placed on his own head the 
crown which Kolbe presented to him on bended knees. That 
ceremony concluded, he adjourned with all his train, and big 
with all his new majesty, to the chamber of Sophia Charlotte, 
and now " la victime " was indeed to be "immolee."* She 
was attired in gold brocade, with a stomacher of diamonds, and 
a spray of magnificent pearls on her bosom, and she, too, wore 
a velvet mantle covered with gold embroidery, and a gold crown 
on her grand black hair, and she looked, indeed, every inch a 
Queen, so that the poet Besser says " she seemed to adorn her 
jewels, and the courtiers felt they must not congratulate the 
Queen on receiving the crown, but the crown for receiving such 
a Queen." She knelt to receive it from the hands of her hus- 
band, but as the ceremony was long and tedious, she, it is said, 
absently refreshed herself with a pinch of snuff, which so 
shocked the King that he remonstrated with her with great 
solemnity on her want of a due sense of her position. Then 
followed a long ceremony in the church, and after that a ban- 
quet. The next day the new King instituted the order of the 
Prussian Black Eagle, and all the rest of the month was de- 
voted to feastings and rejoicings, whilst the Queen was sighing 
for the quiet of Liitzelburg, and writing to Leibnitz that the 
festivities of the Court only made her still more regret the philo- 
sophical conversations which they had so often held together. 

In the train of Macclesfield, who was this year the bearer of 
the call of the house of Hanover to the ultimate succession of 
the English throne, was the well-known Toland, an Irishman, 
who had made himself infamous for his bold and blasphemous 
writings against religion. Sophia Charlotte had heard much 
* Letter to La Pollnitz, "Qu'en penses tu? La victime sera-t-elle immolee?" 


of this man, and she now became desirous of seeing him, and 
hearing from his own lips the extraordinary assertions which 
were said to have proceeded from him. We accordingly find 
him shortly afterwards at Berlin, where he held a long discus- 
sion in the presence of the Queen, and openly disputed the 
authority of the New Testament, with Beausobre, one of the 
clergymen of the French colony. Toland afterwards published 
an account of this journey, in which he thus describes the 
Prussian Queen : " She is the most beautiful princess of her 
time, and not inferior to any man in depth of understanding/' 
"I never in my whole life heard any one who unveiled the 
insufficiency or sophistry of an adversary's argument more 
skilfully, or discovered the strength or weakness of a position 
more quickly than she." He also published in 1704 his 
" Letters to Serena," which he pretended had been addressed 
to her, but which it is at least certain that she had never seen. 

In the beginning of the year 1702 Sophia Charlotte paid a 
visit to Hanover. The Margrave Albert (the King's half bro- 
ther), despite the inclemency of the season, persisted in acting 
as coachman on the journey thither, clad in a velvet coat 
and silk stockings. On this occasion those famous carnival 
festivities took place, the report of which so excited the King's 
anger that he did not entirely forget or forgive the Queen's 
participation in them for more than a year. For a description 
of these certainly somewhat extraordinary diversions we are 
also indebted to the pen of the great philosopher Leibnitz ; it 
was a " classic masquerade," representing a feast ; the description 
of which is given by Petronius. The modern " Trimalcionus " 
was the Raugraf Charles Maurice, the illegitimate son of the 
Elector Palatine, Charles Louis. The Duchess of Orleans says 
of the E/augraf that " he would have been a perfect philosopher 
had he not been such a lover of wine, but he was blind drunk 
every day at Berlin." Yet merry and talented, witty and wild, 
with all his faults he was a great favourite with the Queen. His 
part suited well with his character, as the trophies d'armes of 


Trimalciomis were empty bottles. The Queen, the Elector 
George of Hanover, and their youngest brother, all took part in 
the masque. One of the standing jests of the day was, that the 
carver was hight Coupe, in order that Trimalcion might call 
and command him at the same time, in imitation of the "Carpus" 
of Petronius. From one pie, when it was opened, escaped live 
birds, which were retaken by sportsmen : there was also a Zodiac, 
with dishes answering to the twelve signs. " But in the midst 
of the merry-making the Goddess of Discord threw one of her 
apples ; a quarrel arose between Trimalcion and his wife For- 
tunata (Mdlle. Pollnitz) ; he threw a glass of wine over her, and 
they could only be reconciled with difficulty." However, every- 
thing terminated in the " most agreeable manner in the world." 
These extracts will no doubt suffice as a specimen of the " Lust- 
bark eiten " of the times, in which a degree of licence, together 
with coarseness and frivolity, prevailed, which astonishes the 
more refined taste of modern days, and to which the high- 
minded Queen does not seem to have been altogether superior, 
although her Court is said to have smiled like " a fair green 
island " out of the sea of that " disgusting roughness and fri- 
volity," " the reproach of which," says Niebuhr, " amidst all 
the other German Courts^ strikes that of Frederic I. in full 

We must now return to the Prince Royal, whose conduct 
about this time cost his mother some of the bitterest moments 
she had ever experienced. He was now fourteen years of age, 
and the turbulence of his childhood had developed with his 
growth, and strengthened with his strength. He was rough 
and rude, and showed no taste for any of those things which 
his mother most prized ; books he hated, and none but martial 
music pleased his ear ; whilst instead of attending to his dancing- 
master's lessons of elegance, he preferred being present at 
the drill, or lying in the sun with his face greased, to give it 
a brown and martial appearance. To indulge his military taste 
he had been allowed to form two companies of cadets of noble 


houses, of his own age, one of which he commanded, and 
his cousin, the Prince of Courland, the other. In order to show 
that she sympathized with his pursuits, the Queen used some- 
times to be present at the exercises of these little troops, on 
which Frederic William spent all his pocket-money, and all the 
time which he was allowed from his studies, and enforced 
attention to those accomplishments which he abhorred even 
more than his studies. 

One day his mother came unexpectedly upon him, when, in 
a fit of passion, he was dragging his playmate, the Prince of 
Courland,* by the hair. The Queen was so horrified at the 
excess of rage which her son displayed, that she could scarcely 
collect herself to reprimand him coldly for his conduct. His 
exploit of kicking young Brandt, one of the pages, down stairs, 
completed her dismay. She became absolutely ill with the 
anxiety which the affair cost her. A letter of hers to Made- 
moiselle Pollnitz, of this time, speaks of the " chagrin " which 
she is suffering. " This young man, whom I believed to be 
only lively and impetuous, has given proofs of a hardness 
which surely derives its origin from a bad heart. ' No/ says 
La Billow, ' it was only from avarice/ Heavens ! so much 
the worse avaricious at so tender an age ! One corrects one- 
self of other vices, but that increases ; and then of how great 
importance is it by the results which it induces. Can compas- 
sion and pity find access to a heart governed by interest ? 
Dohna is an upright man, he has both probity and nobility of 
sentiment, but his failing is also a spirit of economy, and we 
correct but indifferently a fault of which we inwardly approve. 

* Son of the widowed Elizabeth Sophia of Brandenburg, sister of Frederic I. 
She had brought him to Berlin for his education. Frederic William used always 
to recall his mother's conduct upon this occasion with severe reprehension, because 
when she came upon him with the young Duke of Courland under him on the 
ground, and both his hands twisted in his cousin's hair, instead of chastising 
him, or going to the aid of the vanquished, she only exclaimed sorrowfully, 
"My dear son ! what are you doing?" Morgenstern, Mitglied des Tabaks Col- 
legii. See his " Friedrich Wilhelm I." 


I have lectured him (the Prince) soundly, and as that does not 
often happen, I spoke very strongly, and recalled all the in- 
stances of his bad conduct upon several other occasions ; added 
to this, the complaints which the ladies had made of his saying 
rude things to them, caused my anger to reach an excess. Is 
this the tone of fine minds ? Is there any greatness in offend- 
ing ? What coarseness of mind to insult a sex formed, at least, 
to be the object of politeness from man ! The Abbe came in 
whilst I was preaching. ' How august is this/ said he, ' I seem 
to see Agrippina speaking to Nero/ Indignant at the com- 
parison, and shuddering at the augury, I received him very 
badly, and he left the room in dismay." 

Amongst the papers of the Princess Amelia, Frederic Wil- 
liam's daughter, was found a document in his handwriting, 
containing a confession of all his faults, and a solemn promise 
to his parents of amendment, especially in the errors of want 
of politeness, and too great familiarity with inferiors. 

The Queen now commenced a correspondence with M. 
Schmettan, the Prussian Ambassador at the Hague, in which 
she expresses her wish that the affairs of the succession of 
Orange, which by the death of King William III. was claimed 
by Frederic, might require the presence of the Prince Royal, 
and thus, by calling him away from the associations of his 
boyhood, and subjecting his mind to the polish of foreign in- 
tercourse, rub off" the excrescences of that character, the strength 
and originality of which threatened to degenerate into eccen- 
tricity and brutality. 

The failure of this project, which, had it been then carried 
out, might probably have effected all that the Queen desired, is 
shown by another letter, written by her later in the same 
month. Despairing of being able to send her son away from 
home, and resolved to " take advantage of what was unavoid- 
able," as a last resource, she again writes to Mademoiselle 
Polmitz, to tell Dohna not to oppose any disposition to gallantry 
that he might evince, only to endeavour to guide it to some 


object calculated to improve and soften his disposition, and 
polish his manners; but his roughness in female society, 
was indeed only caused by his shyness towards the other sex, 
which, throughout his whole life, he treated with respect, 
although his opinion of women was not particularly exalted. 
Unfortunately, too, his youthful passion for the Margravine 
Caroline of Anspach, who was five years older than himself, 
and who always treated him as a mere boy, and the mockery 
with which this attachment was assailed at Hanover, helped to 
aggravate his natural shyness. With respect to this early love 
affair, Morgenstern says, " His passion did not cease, although 
the object of it, by her mother's and grandmother's directions, 
treated him harshly." " There seems scarcely a doubt that if 
the Margravine Caroline of Anspach, instead of scornfully 
rejecting the youthful lover, had endeavoured gently to con- 
vince him of the impossibility of a union, and if the electoral 
Prince George Augustus had remonstrated with him kindly, 
instead of with mockery and scorn, the crown Prince would 
have resigned himself, and there would not have existed such 
an obstinate attachment, nor such a long-continued resentment 
in a forgiving heart like that of Frederic William. The electoral 
Princess Sophia also was far too fond of a joke, or of anything 
laughable, to make a serious representation to her grandson, 
and the measure of her courtesy had more of salt and pepper 
than of honey in it." And when at length the Prince of 
Prussia did leave his father's Court for foreign travel, his cha- 
racter was already too much formed to admit of great benefit 
being derived from new associations. 

One of the often-recurring misunderstandings between the 
Courts of Berlin and Hanover now demanded the presence of 
the Electress Sophia, in her usual office of mediatrix ; and, as 
usual, she successfully employed her softening influence on the 
mind of Frederic, the managing of whose weaknesses cost fewer 
scruples to her than to her daughter. The power of Warten- 


berg had now become very great,* and a feeling by no means 
friendly was entertained by him, or rather by his wife, towards 
the Queen, for though she had at length consented to receive 
the Countess, Sophia Charlotte could not prevail upon herself 
to abstain from addressing her in French, a language of which 
the low-bred lady was wholly ignorant, and being there- 
fore unable to reply, the witticisms of the Court had been 
levelled against her on more than one occasion. Finding this 
to be the case, Sophia here also interposed her good offices, and 
even invited the Countess to Hanover, the effect of which 
emollient was quickly shown by the increased complaisance both 
of the Countess and her husband. 

We have at various times spoken of the Queen's love for 
music ; her well-known delight in this art led many of the best 
masters of the time to resort to her Court. It was for her that 
Ariosti composed that opera, f the wonderful overture to which, 
with its wild bewildering melodies and strange outbursts of 
harsh discord, now entranced, now almost stunned the ear of the 
perplexed listener. Corelli was her favourite composer. Buo- 
noncini also spent here much of his time ; hither came the 
young Handel, the disciple of Ariosti, at the age of fifteen, and 
astonished the Queen by his extraordinary talent ; here also 
rang the sweet voices of Paolina, Fridolin, and Regina Schonaes, 
whilst most of the other stars of the musical world of that day 
shone from time to time upon the firmament of a Court where 
they were sure of a just appreciation of their talents. 

On the marriage of the King's brother, the Margrave Albert 
to Princess Maria, the daughter of the widowed Duchess of 

* To such a pitch had the arrogance of Count Kolbe Wartenberg arisen, relates 
Count C. Dohna, that upon one occasion, when the latter 5 s brother, Count 
Alexander, entertained the King at dinner, that meal was delayed, and the King 
kept waiting for some time, because the Prime Minister had not yet arrived, 
and it was not thought politic to sit down to table without him. 

f For description of this opera, see Varnhagen von Ense "Leben der Konigen, 
S. C." It was performed on the occasion of the marriage of the Margrave Philip 
William of Schwedt, in 1699. 


Courland, the direction of the festivities attendant upon 
which the King left wholly to the Queen, as he did not entirely 
approve the match/* Buononcinr's opera of Polifemo was 
brought out, the Queen herself performed in it, seated at a 
piano in the midst of the orchestra, and accompanied by some 
of the best masters of the day. 

It was in 1703 also that those famous discussions took place 
between the Vota Pere, confessor of John Sobieski, and the 
Protestant divines of Berlin, on the authority of the writings 
of the Fathers, in which, despite the presence of the Queen, of 
whom I/Enfant, a clergyman of the Erench colony, quoted 
" Olli subrisit vultu quo cuncta serenat " Vota lost his 
temper, and afterwards wrote that letter of apology, which drew 
from the Queen a very long and very learned reply. But as 
the subject would not interest the generality of my readers, and 
as the learning is supposed to have been supplied by those 
divines who had taken part in the controversy, I will not 
insert it.f 

The end of the year 1704 was marked by the appearance of 
the Duke of Marlborough as English Ambassador, f at the 
Court of Berlin, where he was honoured with the favour, and 
assisted in his mission by the influence of the Queen. The 

* When the Duchess of Courland married the sexagenarian Margrave Christian 
Ernest of Baireuth, her step-daughter, the Princess Maria of Courland, remained 
with the Queen ; the Margrave Albert fell so much in love with her, that, it is 
said, on the King refusing' his consent to the marriage, he threw himself at his 
feet, and entreated Frederic either to kill him, or to grant permission for the 
union. The King was so touched that he yielded the desired permission, but 
would not be present at the marriage. 

The Margrave Albert was very hasty, but his anger was merely a "feu de 
paille," and evaporated almost before it had time for expression. He flew into a 
rage with his wife twenty times a day, and begged her pardon the moment after- 
wards, for he was passionately attached to her. Pollnitz. 

f* For the letter and controversy, see Erman's "Life of Soph. Ch." Appendix. 

J Frederic renewed his alliance with the maritime powers on finding that 
Charles XII. disregarded his remonstrances upon the election of Stanislaus Leck- 
sinski to the crown of Poland. Marlborough came to arrange the articles of the 
treaty with England, as Frederic's part of which 8000 Prussians were sent off for 
operations in Italy. 


August following his departure, the Prince Iloyal also left 
Berlin with the intention of visiting England by way of 
Holland. This first parting from her darling son, whom, 
despite his faults and his utter dissimilarity of character, Sophia 
Charlotte idolized completely, cost her much grief; and a sad 
presentiment that this might be, as indeed it proved, the last 
time that she should behold him, seems to have overshadowed 
her mind. On her escritoire was afterwards found a heart drawn 
by her hand, with the inscription "il est parti." Towards 
the end of the year, Sophia of Hanover, fearful that the 
Countess of Wartenberg might throw obstacles in the way of 
her daughter's usual presence at the carnival festivities at 
Hanover (for Sophia Charlotte had not long been able to 
maintain her intercourse with that lady on the same amicable 
footing as that on which her mother had placed it), began to 
lay her plans for once more mollifying the resentment of that 
powerful personage. She proposed to invite her, if the thing 
could not be accomplished otherwise, to accompany the Queen, 
who wrote to Leibnitz, that she would submit even to this 
annoyance rather than not pay the wonted visit. After much, 
and somewhat difficult negotiation, this arrangement was 
finally made, and Sophia Charlotte joyfully commenced her 
preparations for the journey. January 12th she wrote to her 
son, who was then in Holland, "saying that she had time for 
but a few words as she was much occupied with her intended 
journey to Hanover, and that thence she hoped, if the King 
again went to Holland, to be able to accompany him, and 
to have once more the pleasure of embracing her child. This 
letter also joyously announced the news from Vienna, that 
the General Heisler had gained a complete victory over the 

Unwilling herself to throw any difficulty in the way of her 
visit to her mother, whose disappointment she knew would be 
extreme if she did not go, Sophia Charlotte concealed the fact 
that she had been slightly indisposed for some days previous to 


her intended departure ; but upon the road she was so unwell 
as to be obliged to stop at Magdeburg. On the 16th, feeling 
herself better, she continued her route, and arrived at Hanover 
on the 18th. There her indisposition again returned with 
greater force, but finding that her mother was herself obliged 
to keep her room on account of some slight illness, she persisted 
in appearing at a ball in the evening, in order not to disappoint 
the assembled guests. The consequences of this kind, but im- 
prudent step, were soon apparent in a violent and frightful ac- 
cession of illness; she was bled the next night, but without 
materially alleviating the symptoms. On the 20th she was 
much worse, and on the 23rd the fever increased rapidly. It 
was the opinion of Hertz and other physicians,* that the nature 
of her illness, which proved to be abscess of the throat, was not 
understood by her medical attendants. However that might be, 
it soon became apparent to Sophia Charlotte, as well as to those 
around her, that her hours of life were numbered, and she at 
once prepared to meet death with the resignation of a Christian, 
and the fortitude of a philosopher. She wrote 'to Frederic, 
thanking him for the many marks of love and kindness which 
he had constantly bestowed upon her, and recommending her 
servants to his care. Afterwards calmly, and even cheerfully, 
she awaited the summons which was to call her, still in the 
prime of her life and the bloom of her beauty, from so much 
that made life still attractive. The only thing on which she 
expressed much anxiety was, the shock which her loss would 
prove to her mother. 

To Mademoiselle Pollnitz, whom she saw weeping bitterly, 
she said, " Do not pity me, I am about to satisfy my curiosity 
upon the causes of things which Leibnitz could never explain 
to me, and I shall provide the King the spectacle of a funeral 
procession, which will give him occasion to display all imagi- 
nable magnificence." t 

* Blester Monatschrift. 

t "Mem, pour servir a 1'Hist. de Brand." Fred. Great. 


M. de la Bergerie,* the pastor of the French congregation at 
Hanover, was summoned, in the absence of the German chap- 
lain, to the Queen's bedside, at one o'clock in the night of the 
last day of January. She received him with a smile, saying, 
"Ah ! M. la Bergerie, one recognises one's friends in times of 
need. You come to offer me your services at a time in which 
I can do nothing for you in return, I thank you for it." He 
knelt by her bedside, and pronounced a somewhat long exhor- 
tation, which he has recorded, and in which he dwelt so much 
on the temptations to the love of worldly pomps, which espe- 
cially beset sovereigns, that Sophia Charlotte, whose besetting 
sins these certainly had not been, glanced with a smile at Ma- 
demoiselle Pollnitz. As she was then exhausted, La Bergerie 
left her for the time j he would have returned shortly afterwards, 
but was told by her brother the Elector, who was then with her, 
that she said she had for twenty years made a serious study of 
religion, that no doubts rested upon her mind, and that he could 
tell her nothing which was not well known to her. She had a 
long private interview with her eldest brother, and also with the 
Prince Ernest Augustus. She then remained praying in silence 
for a long time. She afterwards kindly bade adieu to all her 
attendants, calling out to her two Turkish servants who stood 
at the door, " Adieu, Ali ; adieu, Hassan." La Bergerie once 
more came and knelt in prayer by her bedside, when suddenly 
taking her brother's hand, she exclaimed, "Dear brother, I am 
suffocated." They were her last words. The abscess in her 
throat had burst, instant death ensued, and Sophia Charlotte's 
fair and gentle spirit had indeed soared into that mysterious 
region whose boundless treasury of knowledge it had, whilst on 
earth, so longingly striven to penetrate. 

Thus, February 1st, 1705, in the thirty- seventh year of her 
age, died Sophia Charlotte, the first Queen of Prussia ; f and if 

* See Erman. 

f- It is curious that all the most remarkable events of her life took place upon 
a Sunday. She was born, christened and married on Sunday, and on that day 
also she died. 


in the intellectual "curiosity" and the "philosophic" resigna- 
tion which are described as marking the closing scene of her 
life, we find but little of the humble faith of the dying Chris- 
tian, it must be remembered not only that these expressions are 
recorded as issuing from her lips by the pen of a man who him- 
self had professedly no religious creed,* but also, that in com- 
mon with most of the German princesses of that day, she was 
not allowed to adopt any decided views upon the subject of re- 
ligion until her marriage. 

This vile system had, with Sophia Charlotte, gone nigh to 
produce the result which seems almost inevitable on a mind 
endowed with so large a development of the reasoning powers 
as hers that of making her an atheist. She had set herself, 
by the light of her own reason only, as it were, to inquire 
whether religion was necessary; and Divine Providence had 
mercifully guided her to a conclusion which was scarcely to be 
expected from such a process, for she became convinced both of 
the truth of revelation and of man's need of a Saviour, and de- 
clared herself unhesitatingly to be a Christian. Nevertheless, a 
large intermixture both of rationalism and philosophy unques- 
tionably always obscured the purity of her faith, and may, pro- 
bably, even on her deathbed, have dictated expressions still 
savouring strongly of the pride of reason, such as those which 
have been quoted. 

J need here make but few remarks upon her character, which 
my readers may have gathered from her actions. Although 
the judgment of an almost contemporary writer, who says she 
had " all the virtues, and none of the faults of her sex," may 
appear too partial, yet that which he proceeds to state of her 
was indisputably true that nothing either in her conduct, or 
in any of the relations of her life, ever gave rise to the least 
suspicion against the integrity of her morals. She was at 
least a virtuous, if we cannot add, a tender wife; yet who 
could wonder that such a woman should fail to attach herself 

* Frederic the Great. 

H 2 


to a man who, by his own grandson's description, was " great 
in little things, and little in great ones ?" * Erman concludes 
that a little philosophical indolence in the depths of her nature 
may have accounted for her dislike to mix herself in the politics 
of the time, and this indeed seems more than probable. At 
all events, she did more towards the polishing of manners, and 
the forwarding of education and science at Berlin, than any 
woman has done before or since ; and sadly indeed did the 
Court degenerate after her purifying influence no longer shone 
upon it. Still also does the Prussian revere with filial affec- 
tion the memory of that first beautiful " mother of the land," 
whose mantle none was found worthy to inherit, until the fair 
and unfortunate Louisa of Mecklenburgh Strelitz rivalled her 
predecessor, at once, in beauty and in the devotion with which 
her people regarded her. 

The dismay and desolation which at Hanover took the place 
of the carnival festivities may be more easily imagined than 
described. When the news reached King Frederic, he fainted, 
and remained so long without consciousness that his medical 
man thought it necessary to bleed him. Upon his recovery he 
shut himself in his room, and refused to see any one for several 
days ; but the cares of the funeral procession, as Sophia Char- 
lotte had rightly predicted, served in a measure to divert his 

The remains lay in state in the old castle chapel at Hanover 
for some time, and were then, with much funeral pomp, con- 
veyed to Berlin. At every town where the procession stopped; 
the same honours were paid to the Queen's lifeless remains 
which had greeted her while living ; and the mournful parade 
of the entry into Berlin fully justified a remark which fell from 
her lips a short time before her death " Helas ! Que de cere- 
monies inutiles on va faire pour ce miserable corps." 

Sophia of Hanover was inconsolable for the death of that 
child whose affection had been her main support for so many 
* Frederic the Great, "Mem. pour servir." 


years. La Pollnitz, the favourite maid of honour, unable to 
endure Berlin without the presence of her mistress and friend, 
retired to Hanover, where she remained in Sophia's service. 
She returned once afterwards to Berlin, as we have already 
stated, in 1722. 

To Leibnitz, who had been unable to attend the Queen upon 
her journey to Hanover, her death proved a heavy misfortune. 
Various allusions to the loss he had experienced may be found 
in his letters, not only of that date but at a much later period ; 
but as space is precious, I forbear to insert them, thus termi- 
nating the memoir of the first Queen of Prussia. 





OF the three years which intervened between the events last 
recorded and Frederic's third marriage, a short review is here 

The pretensions of the Countess of Wartenberg, which had 
been kept under at least some degree of restraint by the late 
Queen's dignity and superiority of mind, assumed after her 
death so insolent a character, that, to use Pollnitz's expression, 
" the Court became a perfect desert." The attractions, too, of 
its now single ornament, the Margravine Albert,* the twin star 
whose shining had of late seemed to add new lustre to Sophia 
Charlotte's beauty and intelligence, were so often withdrawn 
by her husband's sudden freaks of jealousy, that she could 
scarcely be said to belong to the Court; and although the 
King held assemblies three times a week, the Princesses of the 
blood and the other ladies of the Court, not choosing to be 
flouted by the assumptions of the arrogant and light-famed 
plebeian, Madame de Wartenberg, gradually ceased to frequent 

The death of the King's only daughter,t who now expired 

* The Princess Maria of Courland, of whose marriage mention has been 
already made. 

f She had in 1700 been married to her cousin, the hereditary Prince of Hesse 
Cassel, as before mentioned. Her mother, it will be remembered, the Elector's 
first wife, was Elizabeth of Hesse Cassel. 


after a long and mysterious illness, added to the grief which 
the death of the Queen had caused him, so affected his health, 
and preyed upon his spirits, that his counsellors, to distract his 
attention from his sorrows, urged him to take into considera- 
tion the propriety of the marriage of the crown Prince, who, 
upon hearing the fatal tidings of his mother's decease, had 
immediately returned to Berlin. 

Several Princesses, a match with either of whom might prove 
advantageous for the interests of Prussia, were accordingly pro- 
posed for Frederic's approval ; but the inclination of the crown 
Prince deciding for the Princess Sophia Dorothea of Hanover, 
his marriage with her was arranged, and took place the following 
year, 1706. 

Meantime the war of the Spanish succession was raging in 
Europe. It was in this year that the Prussian forces, under the 
Prince of Anhalt Dessau, so much distinguished themselves in 
the decisive action before Turin, that the Duke of Savoy wrote 
to the King of Prussia, " The enemy's army has been com- 
pletely defeated in its own lines before my town of Turin ; the 
troops of your Majesty have had the greatest share in this 
battle. I cannot enough praise their bravery, nor the extra- 
ordinary valour of M. the Prince of Anhalt." 

Louis XIV., weary at length of a war which drained France 
of men and money, and dispirited by the terrible defeats which 
his armies had sustained, not only at Turin, but at Blenheim, 
Ramillies, and Oudenarde, was inclined to pacific measures ; but 
the allies, triumphing in repeated victories, would not consent, 
on such terms as France could accept, to a peace which, after 
some years more of destructive warfare, they were content to 
sign, on far less advantageous terms, at Utrecht. 

Warlike operations accordingly recommenced, and the crown 
Prince, leaving his bride, went to join the army under Marl- 
borough, in Flanders. He remained in the field during the 
campaign, and was subsequently present at the battle of Mal- 


This was the period;* too, in which the arms of Sweden, 
having triumphed over the coalition which had threatened the 
dominions of her young monarch upon his accession, were still 
supreme in the dominions of the dethroned King of Poland, 
for the dreadful day of Poltawa had not as yet checked the vic- 
torious career of Charles XII. 

A curious anecdote is related of the wife of the Swedish 
Minister, Count Piper, which so well illustrates the terror with 
which the rapid conquests of the King of Sweden had inspired 
the neighbouring Powers, that I insert it. 

The Countess Piper passed through Berlin on her road to 
join her husband, and as the wife of the powerful minister of 
Frederic's powerful ally, she was received with much distinction, 
and lodged in the hotel destined for the accommodation of 
ambassadors and foreign princes. Unfortunately, she was put 
into a suite of rooms, newly decorated with tapestry, the design 
of which represented the victories of the great Elector, during 
his campaign against the Swedes. The Countess imagined that 
this had been done purposely to insult her and her country, 
and declared that she would not remain in a house where such 
an indignity had been offered her. However, orders were 
speedily given that the tapestries should be changed and every 
apology offered ; and the lady suffered her patriotic jealousy to 
be for the moment appeased, on the King himself apologizing to 
her for the unintentional offence she had received. A few days 
afterwards, passing over the Pont Neuf, where Schliiter's mag- 
nificent statue of the great Elector was then in process of 
erection, she fancied that the fettered slaves, grouped at the 
base, were intended for Swedes, and insisted on their being 
taken down. Had she been Countess anything else, this extra- 
vagant demand might have only raised a laugh at her expense; 
but she was the Countess Piper, and in all haste Frederic 
ordered her wishes to be instantly complied with. This was 
the easier of execution, since this portion of the monument 
was as yet only executed in plaister. 


One of the most singular occurrences of this period, when 
the darkness of ignorance was still struggling with the advanc- 
ing rays of science, and when men had still not given up 
the idea of the philosopher's stone, was the appearance of the 
" Gold-maker/' Count Caetano de Ruggiero, a Neapolitan, at 
the Prussian Court. He had come to Berlin in 1705, with 
various high-sounding titles, from the foreign States, where he 
had been a sojourner, attached to his name. He travelled in a 
splendid four-horsed equipage, with a large train of servants, in 
liveries of scarlet and gold. He and his wife lived in a magni- 
ficent house, and were served in magnificent style. 

Knowing that the King delighted in displaying his generosity 
to strangers and foreigners, Ruggiero begged leave to place 
Tiimself under his protection, from the persecution of foreign 

The neighbouring Court of Dresden was just then all in 
commotion at the marvellous gold-making achievements of a 
certain Baron Bottiger with his mysterious powder. Frederic 
had repeatedly, but vainly, claimed this man, who was a Mag- 
deburger, as his subject. When, therefore, the Count Ruggiero 
requested to be allowed to exhibit proofs of his powers of 
changing other less valuable metal into gold, the proposition 
was eagerly accepted, and a day was appointed for the experi- 
ment, which was to take place in one of the apartments of 
the Palace. 

At the appointed time, the crown Prince, who was naturally 
somewhat suspicious, having, as he had stipulated, furnished 
the requisite utensils, the powers of the Gold-maker were put 
to the proof. The experiment took place in the presence of the 
King, the High Chamberlain Wartenberg, the Grand Marshal 
Wittgenstein, and the crown Prince, who himself stirred the 
contents of the crucible; and Count Ruggiero succeeded, by 
means of a certain marvellous tincture, of a reddish colour, 
mixed into the compound by the Prince himself, in changing 
" a pound of quicksilver into a pound of pure gold." In vain 


did the acutest of the Berlin goldsmiths try and test it, it was 
gold, the purest, finest gold. 

The King was delighted beyond measure at the success of 
the experiment, and nattered himself that he should soon be 
richer than the great Mogul. The wonderful stranger then 
presented him with a small quantity of this magical red tinc- 
ture, and also of a white one, and promised within sixty days 
to prepare so much of the same compounds as should produce 
six million Thalers' worth of gold and silver. 

The Count Ruggiero, as one whom the King delighted to 
honour, was forthwith installed into the palace of the late 
minister Danckelmann, and fed from the kingly table. Of 
course, it was unnecessary, if not insulting, to offer money to a 
man who had it in his power to produce more than the mines 
of Peru. The King sent him, as a testimony of his regard, 
twelve flasks of old French wine ! 

As the stipulated sixty days drew near their close, the 
splendid Italian began to show symptoms of restlessness ; he 
made long excursions, first to Hildesheim, then to Stettin. The 
King, a little uneasy at these absences, sent him gracious letters 
in his own handwriting, his portrait set in brilliants, and an 
officer's commission. The adept had been rather dismayed at 
receiving nothing more substantial than French wine ; a little 
encouraged at this, therefore, he returned to Berlin, and began 
to make conditions ; at first he demanded 50,000 Thalers as his 
terms, and from this, gradually abated his demand to the sum 
of 1000 ducats to take him back to Italy. 

The suspicions awakened by this strange conduct were con- 
firmed by letters from Vienna and other Courts, upon the 
pockets of whose rulers he had made similar experiments, by 
converting quicksilver into gold for their use, while he converted 
their credulity into ducats for his own. 

The King demanded the fulfilment of the Gold-maker's pro- 
mise ; Ruggiero fled to Hamburg, whence he was brought back 
and imprisoned. After being found guilty as an impostor, he 


finished his career in 1708, by being hung, arrayed in tinsel 
robes, upon a gilded gibbet. 

The birth of an heir to the throne in 1707 caused great, 
though short-lived, rejoicings.* In honour of the event, and 
at the intercession of the crown Princess, Frederic liberated 
his old minister, Danckelmann. This freedom was coupled 
with the restriction of residing within fourteen miles of Berlin. 

The crown Prince had a deservedly high opinion of the 
character and talents of this minister, and on his accession he 
offered to restore him to office ; but advancing age, and long 
years of imprisonment, had curbed the ambition jof the states- 
man, and taught the fallen minister full many a bitter lesson 
of the instability of power, and the gray-headed and time- 
bowed old man declined again to climb the giddy elevation 
whereon, even in the pride of his manhood and the full activity 
of his mental powers, he had been unable to maintain his 

The King's health being still in a declining state, he was 
induced to go to take the baths of Carlsbad, in Bohemia, whilst 
the crown Prince was recalled from Flanders to act as Regent 
during his absence. This journey of Fredericks was taken 
advantage of by the ministers, Wittgenstein, Ilgen, and Biber- 
stein,f to put a plan of their own in execution. 

Jealous of the influence which Frederic William began to 
assume in the government, and uneasy at the decided ill-will 
which he manifested towards themselves, they had formed a 
scheme of inducing the King to marry again, hoping that by 
thus raising to the throne a Princess who would owe her eleva- 
tion to them, they should secure to themselves an auxiliary able 

* The child did not long survive its birth. 

*h Wittgenstein held the post of obermarschall, or as it was then called Mare- 
chal de la Gour. Ilgen was of the Burger class ; he was Minister of Foreign 
Affairs ; he was engaged in the crown Prince's service also. Biberstein was ap- 
pointed to the Oberherold-meistership ; he was also employed in several foreign 
missions as ambassador, in which capacity he visited England in 1712. See 


and willing to assist them by her influence, and thus to coun- 
terbalance the growing power of the crown Prince. 

The King, passing on his journey within a short distance of 
the abode of his half-sister, the Duchess of Saxe Zeitz, turned 
aside thither to visit her. The ministers improved this oppor- 
tunity to win over the Duchess to support their views, and pro- 
pose the matter for the King's consideration. Furnished by 
them with a basis of operations, Madame de Zeitz commenced 
her attack. She introduced the topic, as if accidentally, during 
a conversation with her brother, dwelling upon the misfortune 
which the failure of a succession would be to Prussia, should the 
opinion of the crown Princess's medical attendants (an opinion 
probably provided for the occasion) prove correct, that she could 
never again give birth to a child. She then inquired why he did 
not marry again. The King replied, though not as if displeased 
with the idea, that at his advanced age he should find no 
Princess willing to accept him, did he make such an attempt. 
To this objection Madame de Zeitz replied that, on the contrary, 
she could at once name several Princesses who would be greatly 
flattered by such a proposal. The King finally promised to 
reflect upon the suggestion, and the conversation terminated. 

He mentioned the Duchess's proposition to Wittgenstein 
and Biberstein, who, as if the idea had been suggested to them 
for the first time, received it with affected surprise and most 
unaffected delight. They went into raptures at its wisdom, 
assuring the King that it really appeared like a divine inspira- 
tion on the part of Madame de Zeitz, so exactly had she suited 
her advice to the emergency ; whilst Biberstein, with tears in 
his eyes, conjured Frederic to listen to the prayer of the people 
addressed to him by the voice of his sister. The King, nearly 
convinced, next applied to Wartenberg, who, fearing to lose 
ground with the crown Prince, declined to advise. Count 
Christopher Dohna, too, was perplexed by a similar question as 
to what he thought of the matter; but although, from courtesy 
and policy combined, he would advance no opinion, he was 


nevertheless, too much attached to his old master not to let his 
judgment upon the point be divined.* Frederic's other coun- 
sellors, however, did not suffer the matter to drop. Several 
other ladies were suggested for his consideration, amongst 
others, the Princess of Hesse Homberg, Charlotte Dorothea, 
of Brandenburg, Culmbach, and the Princess of Nassau 
Dietz, sister of the Prince of Orange, Statthalter of Fries- 
land. The King inclined towards this lady, under the idea 
that the differences with regard to the Orange succession to 
which, on the death of William III. of England, he laid claim 
in right of his mother, Louisa of Orange, might thus be settled. 
Baron Chalsacf was therefore sent to the Prince to make the 
proposal. It was accepted, and all was arranged, saving 
Frederic's demand, that in imitation of the widowed Duchess 
of John Frederic of Hanover, who had carried her daughter's 
train upon the celebration of her marriage with Joseph, King 
of the Romans, afterwards emperor, the mother of the Princess 
of Nassau Dietz should, in like manner, bear her daughter's 
train upon the occasion of her marriage with himself. 

With this stipulation, however, that lady refused to comply, 
and on the matter being pressed, she said that sooner than 
consent to such a humiliation she would renounce the marriage 
for her daughter altogether. Frederic took offence at this, and 
the negotiations were broken off. But the Duchess, his sister, 
was indefatigable in the cause ; she next suggested the Princess 
Sophia Louisa of Mecklenburg Schwerin, the sister of the 
reigning Duke. This match she further recommended, as 
strengthening Frederic's claim to the Mecklenburg succession. J 

The King was by no means averse to the idea of a match in 
this quarter; negotiations were, therefore, once more set on 
foot, and an interview was arranged between him and the 
Princess Sophia Louisa. This meeting took place at Ilosenthal, 
near Oranienburg, whither she came accompanied by her mother. 

* Dohna's Memoirs. "t CLalsac belonged to the French colony. 

+. A claim upon the eventual succession of Mecklenburg had been asserted by 
the Kurbrandenburg family since the year 1442. 


The Princess was then only twenty-three years of age whilst 
Frederic was fifty-one, but this disparity of years does not 
seem to have shocked either party. 

The King was much pleased with the Princess during the 
half hour's conversation which he had with her at Rosenthal. 
Proposals were now formally made to the Duke of Mecklenburg 
for his sister's hand, and as formally accepted; all preliminaries 
were settled without delay and the day for the ceremony fixed. 
The marriage took place at Mecklenburg, Wittgenstein acting 
as the King's representative on the occasion. 

The next day the Princess set out for Berlin. She was accom- 
panied by her mother, her brother, and others of her relatives, 
as far as the frontiers of the Prussian dominions. She was 
received in great state at some distance from Berlin, by Frederic, 
who had made splendid preparations to greet her arrival. He 
then left her in order to return to the capital himself to arrange 
for her state entry, which took place on the 27th. The bride 
and bridegroom repaired to the church on the 28th, to receive 
the nuptial benediction. Frederic's taste for magnificence had 
exhausted itself in the decorations which had been lavished 
upon this festive occasion. The streets were hung with 
tapestry, a boarded way covered with crimson carpeting, and 
shaded by a magnificent awning, was prepared for the passage 
of the bridal party. The King, dressed in gold brocade 
garnished with diamonds, led the procession, and was followed 
by the Queen with her royal crown upon her head. She was 
supported by her step-son the crown Prince, and the Margrave 
Albert Philip, her brother-in-law ; whilst her train was borne by 
six young ladies, all dressed alike in silver brocade ; the four 
Princesses, also dressed alike, carried the royal mantle. There 
were strewers of flowers, and players of music, and plenty of 
spectators ; nevertheless, says an eye-witness, an air of gloom 
hung over the whole proceeding. Even the pleasure of the King 
himself had been damped by an announcement recently made 
to him by the crown Prince, that his wife, the Princess Sophia 


Dorothea, was in circumstances which gave reason to hope for 
the birth of an heir ; and, bridegroom as he was, Frederic had 
confessed, that had he been aware of the fact sooner he would 
have contracted no new marriage ties himself. 

The charge of forming the new Queen's household was com- 
mitted to Wittgenstein, the Grand Marshal of the Court. He 
selected as Oberhofmeisterin, his mother-in-law the Countess 
of Wittgenstein Valendar. According to Pollnitz's descrip- 
tion, this lady does not appear to have been very well qualified 
for her office. " She had never left the depths of Wetteravia," 
says he, " save to go to the fair of Frankfort, where she had 
contracted all the pride of the Countesses of the empire, and 
though she had the best will in the world to act her part, she 
was far better fitted to figure at Wetzlar (at the Eeichsham- 
mergerichte), than at Court." 

Count Wittgenstein's sister-in-law was the chief of the 
maids of honour, who were all ladies of the highest families in 
the kingdom; although, according to the same author, they 
were no better calculated to grace a Court than the Oberhof- 
meisterin, for they were all young without the least " teinture 
du monde," vain and haughty, with manners like those of 
Byron's " budding Miss " 

" All giggle, blush, half pertness and half pout." 

Amongst the regulations made by Wittgenstein for the new 
household was one to the effect that no gentleman below the 
rank of a count should dine at the table of the maids of honour, 
a measure which was subject of much dissatisfaction to those 
young ladies, who would have been " very glad to marry gentle- 
men " without that title. 

It would have been indispensable for the young Queen to 
possess considerable knowledge of the world and aplomb her- 
self, to neutralize the effect of so much gauchcrie in the manners 
of the Court circle of which she was to be the centre. Count 
Schwerin, too, her oberhofmeister, although an accomplished 
courtier and an amiable man, was not one who was qualified to 


give advice to a young Princess, inexperienced in the ways of a 
Court, at the same time that she was called upon to enact so 
important a part in it ; consequently, we need not be astonished 
if we find that she neither fell into her place with ease, nor 
occupied it with dignity. 

In addition to the above-mentioned drawbacks, also, she had 
been allowed the utmost liberty as regarded her conduct at her 
brother's Court. She had been thoughtless and gay, and if 
not absolutely indiscreet, at least somewhat heedless as to the 
spotlessness of her reputation. She knew that the tongue of 
scandal had been busy with her name; she knew, moreover, 
that certain rumours had reached even the ears of the King. 
Under these circumstances, she took the very wisest resolution 
that any similarly-situated Princess could have taken that of 
bringing discredit upon all such reports by the blameless regu- 
larity and rectitude of her life and conduct ; and had she been 
more happily situated with regard to her female retinue had she 
been fortunate enough to possess even one judicious friend, 
either male or female, upon whose counsel she could have relied 
had she herself been endowed with sufficient strength of mind 
to carry out her plan independent of extraneous influence her 
elevation to the throne might have been fraught with far happier 
consequences to herself than those which will have to be here 
recorded; for the King was much taken with her, and was 
considerably in love during the early days of their marriage. 

Unfortunately, however, her chief companion and confidential 
friend was Mdlle. Gravenitz, who had been her dame de compagnie 
at the Court of Mecklenburg, and who, if report told truth, had 
been more than a little coquettish and indiscreet in the days of her 
youth. But having now reached the years " when reason begins 
to triumph over the passions, she had taken shelter from scandal 
under the cloak of religion," and practised new austerities to 
make up for old frailties. This lady, taking advantage of the 
Queen's facility of disposition, set before her her own gloomy 
severity and cheerless asceticism as the model by which she 


should regulate her own future manner of life, thus imposing 
an unnatural degree of restraint upon the original gaiety and 
animation of her manners, and freezing the open frankness of 
her disposition into a chilling reserve a great misfortune with 
a man like Frederic, for whom vivacity possessed much attrac- 
tion, more especially as he had been very unwilling in the first 
instance to permit the transportation of the soured spinsterhood 
of Mdlle. Gravenitz from the Court of Mecklenburg to that of 

As the Queen was a Lutheran, moreover, she had chosen the 
preacher Porst, of the Nicolaikirche, as her spiritual adviser, 
and he had made her acquainted with Francke, the Pietist and 
founder of the Orphan House at Halle. 

There can be no doubt of the real piety and active and ex- 
tensive usefulness of Francke, who laboured in the cause of 
education and enlightenment with zeal worthy of a noble work- 
man in a noble cause ; yet the influence which he exercised over 
the mind of the Queen appears to have been by no means hap- 
pily directed ; and although no doubt he secured her co-opera- 
tion in his benevolent schemes, still he does not seem to have 
taught her either to find an active and healthful occupation in 
the fulfilment of those duties to which she was unquestionably 
called by her high station, or to seek a natural outlet for her 
pent-up warmth of feeling in the direction of sympathy for 
others, and in the exercise of those personal charities for which 
her position afforded an ample field. 

It is painful to find such an aspersion cast by historians upon 
the memory of so good a man, yet it seems clear that he rather 
fostered than checked the tendency which the Queen's mind 
began to assume towards that morbid activity of conscience 
which, in temperaments constituted like hers, is but too often a 
prelude to mental disease. But Francke was misunderstood and 
misrepresented in the times in which he lived, and it may be 
that this charge, which has survived to our day, is but a super- 
annuated remnant of the malice and folly which then, as well 



as now, delighted in bespattering the reputation of a good man. 
At all events, the accusation is made by a man who changed 
his own profession, we cannot say religion, three times.* 

Meantime the crown Princess, despite the predictions of her 
husband's enemies, had, in the year 1709, given birth to a 
child ; f an d though it was not the anxiously-desired male heir 
to the kingdom, the event sufficed, nevertheless, to cast a more 
cheerful aspect over the face of Prussian affairs, then over- 
clouded by the fearful pestilence which had swept away 200,000 
souls in its ravages, and the fatality of which was said to have 
been chiefly owing to the negligence of those officers (especially 
Wittgenstein) to whose charge the wants of the nation had been 

A strange and indecorous scene took place at the christening 
of this child. In the new court regulations which had been 
made on the recent marriage of the King, Madame de Warten- 
berg bad obtained the right to take precedence of all unmarried 
Princesses, and even of all married ones whose husbands were 
not reigning Princes. The Duchess of Holstein Beck had 
actually sold her right of precedence to her for 10,000 Thalers 
(which the King paid). With the glow of conscious dignity, 
therefore, and with stately step that told of right to take pre- 
cedence even of Princesses of the blood, Madame de Warten- 
berg walked in her proudly-conspicuous place in the procession 

* Pollnitz was a man of great wit and talent, but of a worthless character. 
Frederic II. spoke of him, before his accession, as " an infamous fellow, diverting 
at table, to be imprisoned afterwards." (Seckendorfs "Journal Secret.") He 
ruined himself completely by his prodigality ; he then turned Roman Catholic, in 
order to marry a rich widow, but the marriage did not take place. It is said 
Frederic told him that had he been a Protestant he could have given him a vacant 
office : Pollnitz soon after informed the King that he was reconverted ; but Fre- 
deric replied, "I am very grieved, I have just given away the office, but if you 
would become a Jew, I could find you a post ! " Pollnitz' s " Memoires pour Ser- 
vir a FHist. des Quatre derniers Souvereins de Brandebourg" are full of life, 
anecdote and scandal ; I see but little reason for the accusations of inaccuracy 
which several authors bring against them, at least compared with the writings 
of others, against whom no such charge has been laid. 

f Frederica Wilhelmina, Marchioness of Baireuth. 


to the chapel, when suddenly from behind a door where she 
had lain perdue, Madame de Lintelo, the wife of the Dutch 
ambassador, darted forth, and endeavoured to take the place in 
front of her. Madame de Wartenberg was not the woman to 
submit to such an infraction of her rights ; Madame de Lintelo 
held her vantage-ground ; a tremendous fracas ensued. The 
two fair ones betook themselves to the weapons with which 
Nature had furnished them, and attacked each other in that 
most easily assailable part, the head-dress. Lace and feathers 
flew in all directions, and a cloud of powder nearly hid the 
combatants from view. In vain did the master of the cere- 
monies, Besser, endeavour to separate them, at untold risk of 
personal damage in the indiscriminating fury of the affray; 
but Madame de Wartenberg had the advantage in point of 
muscular strength, and a few hearty cuffs finished the discomfi- 
ture of Madame de Lintelo, whilst the victor bore off as a trophy 
a lappet from the head-dress of her vanquished foe. Her vic- 
tory was rendered yet more complete, when, on afterwards 
complaining bitterly to the King of this attempted infraction 
of her just claims, he yielded to her representations, and de- 
manded an apology from M. de Lintelo; and on his non-com- 
pliance with the demand, threatened to withdraw his troops 
from Flanders unless the States insisted that their ambassador 
should compel his wife to make the requisite apology. 

But Madame de Wartenberg' s days of triumph were drawing 
to a close. In 1710, at the period of the Jahr Markt at Leipsic, 
which then drew a great concourse of the most distinguished 
families of the kingdom, and not un frequently royalty itself to 
that town, Frederic had gone thither for the purpose of an in- 
terview with the King of Poland, who was his debtor to a very 
considerable amount, and upon whom he wished to press a 
speedy settlement of accounts. During his absence the Queen, 
although confined to her apartments by indisposition, was, with 
her ladies, busily engaged upon a piece of embroidery which 
she destined for a present to the King upon his return. 

i 2 


With the ostensible view of doing Madame de Wartenberg 
honour, and perhaps with a little private malice in the back- 
ground, as she knew that the Countess was not fond of such 
employment, she invited her to assist at these labours of the 
needle. On the afternoon of the second day spent at the task, 
a strange attendant was observed to enter the room, and pre- 
sent coffee to Madame de Wartenberg. The Queen inquired 
with astonishment into the cause of such a proceeding. 
" Oh ! " replied Madame de Wartenberg, carelessly, " it is only 
my valet." Justly indignant at her effrontery, the Queen com- 
manded her to leave the room. " I think I see myself doing 
so," replied the Countess, with a loud laugh. Incensed beyond 
bounds by the insolence of this answer, and the manner in 
which it was delivered, the Queen called to her attendants to 
throw the offender out of the window, but no one was at hand 
to obey the command ; and Madame de Wartenberg, thinking 
discretion the better part of valour, beat a somewhat hasty 

On the King's return the Queen lodged a complaint against 
the arrogant favourite. The King was very angry, and re- 
monstrated with Madame de Wartenberg, insisting upon her 
making an ample apology to the Queen, which, being some- 
what alarmed at his unwonted firmness, she consented to do, 
though she artfully contrived at first to delay, and afterwards 
wholly to evade, this humiliation. This event, however, some- 
what shook her in the King's favour, and her intimacy with 
the English ambassador, Lord Raby, probably did not tend to 
re-establish her influence. 

This nobleman had gained an extraordinary ascendancy at 
the Prussian Court, and his arrogance seems to have been little 
short of that of Madame de Wartenberg herself. Pollnitz 
relates, that on one occasion, at a much earlier period, he 
even declined to remain standing whilst the Princess Caroline 
of Anspach was seated at the King's table, little dreaming that 
she was one day to be Queen of England. He is said also to 


have imprudently boasted that Marlborough held the whole 
Prussian ministry in leading strings by means of English pay. 
By means of his influence over Madame de Wartenberg he had 
certainly succeeded in acquainting himself with many of the 
most private affairs of the Prussian Court. 

But that which more immediately tended to the disgrace of 
Madame de Wartenberg and her husband, was perhaps the 
annoyance which her ridiculous claims continually drew upon 
Frederic by involving him in difficulties with the ministers of 
foreign Powers. 

During the visit of the beautiful Russian ambassadress, 
Madame de Matuoff,* to Berlin in 1710, she stayed at the 
house of Monsieur de Lith, the Russian minister, intending to 
remain incognita; but the King sent to invite her to Court. 
M. de Lith thought himself bound to return this fete by a 
banquet, to which most of the foreign ministers, and of course 
M. and Madame de Wartenberg were invited: he was so 
anxious that the latter, especially, should honour the festival 
with her presence, that he begged the King to use his authority 
to induce her to do so. Frederic accordingly desired that 
Madame de Wartenberg would comply with M. de Lith's wishes. 
On the day in question she was even seen to array herself in her 
most splendid apparel, her windows being opposite to those of 
M. de Lith's hotel. The banquet awaited but her presence, 
when a messenger arrived from Madame de Wartenberg to in- 
quire into the order of the arrangements, as she expected to 
take precedence of Madame de Matuoff. M. de Lith replied 
that the arrangements had already been made, and that it was 
not in his power to alter them, the precedence being due to 
Madame de Matuoff as an ambassadress of the first rank. After 
this message had been despatched, the space of a few minutes 
brought another courier from the proud Madame de Warten- 
berg, charged to state that a violent headache would prevent her 
having the honour of being present at the dinner. The guests 

* Dohna's Memoirs. 


were therefore obliged to place themselves at table without the 
haughty dame, whose character and pretensions, we may be sure, 
underwent tolerably severe treatment at their hands ; in short, 
a league offensive and defensive was formed against her by all 
the foreign ministers except Raby, not only to oblige her to 
apologize, but to do it publicly. A complaint was therefore 
formally laid before the King, accompanied by a demand for 
redress of this injury. Irritated at the frequent recurrence of 
such offences, and fearful of being involved in a dispute with the 
Czar, now become formidable by the results of the preceding 
year's victory at Poltawa, Frederic insisted that Madame de 
Wartenberg should make a public apology to Madame de Ma- 
tuoff. Prayers and entreaties were of no avail on this occasion ; 
the King was firm, and even the passionate tears of the former 
favourite sufficed only to repeal the publicity of the atonement ; 
but here also her enemies were more than a match for her, and 
though the King conceded that she should be allowed to read 
from a paper the words of the dictated apology, standing, before 
Madame de Matuoff, who was to remain seated on the sofa, and 
though that detested paper was torn into a thousand fragments 
by her passionate hand the moment after it was read, yet the 
foreign ministers, concealed in the neighbouring apartment, had 
not only heard every word, but transferred it faithfully to paper, 
and Madame de Wartenberg soon had the mortification of seeing 
its publication in a gazette, which her implacable foes took care 
should reach her without loss of time. 

Nor was this the only or even the worst result of the affair. 
The King meeting her shortly after in the Queen's circle, abso- 
lutely threatened that, if she persisted in entangling him in such 
disagreeable affairs, " he would find means to put a stop to it." 
All unused to such language from the generally but too indul- 
gent monarch, she was seriously alarmed, and, says Pollnitz, 
gave her husband the only good advice he ever received, and the 
only advice which he did not take from her to leave the 


The crown Prince had long been weary of the Wartenberg 
sway at Court; his favourite Grumbkow was equally so; Ilgen, 
the minister for foreign affairs, who had hitherto been Warten- 
berg' s right hand, loved neither the favourite Madame de War- 
tenberg, nor the " favourite's favourite " Lord Raby ; he there- 
fore formed one of the party who had leagued themselves to 
effect the downfall of the minister, and of his even more ob- 
noxious wife. 

The opportunity of the affair with Madame de Matuoff was 
therefore eagerly seized upon by the confederates, as a fitting 
preparation for the accusations which they hastened to pour into 
the King's already-irritated mind. Madame de Wartenberg 
was charged with being in English pay; with intriguing with 
Raby ; with investing vast sums of ill-gotten money in English 
securities; various other accusations of a like nature were 
brought forward, all calculated to estrange Frederic from his 
former favourite. 

Grumbkow and Ilgen also made use of the two Kameckes, in 
order the better to carry out their scheme. These two gentle- 
men were both favourites with the King : the te great Kamecke," 
Paul Anton, had formerly been one of the royal pages ; he had 
attracted the King's notice by his pleasant physiognomy and 
lively manners ; he was a man of no talent, but of an unassum- 
ing and honourable character ; he had been promoted to the 
post of Grand Master of the Wardrobe. His cousin, the 
" little Kamecke," Ernst Bogislav, was cleverer, and not so 
honest ; his road to favour had been found partly by adopting 
the reformed in exchange for the Lutheran principles, partly by 
allowing the King to win at chess, whilst seeming to contest the 

The fall of Wittgenstein was the prelude to that of his 
chief. A fire which had taken place at the town of Crossen 
gave an opening for an accusation against him, which was 
quickly taken advantage of. Wittgenstein had the administra- 
tion of the funds of the Fire Insurance at Berlin ; the inha- 


bitants of Crossen applied to the office for indemnification for 
their losses; not only, however, were there no funds forth- 
coming to meet their demands, but they were dismissed with 
insolence by the officials. 

Upon this a formal charge of embezzlement of public money 
was brought against Wittgenstein by the great Kamecke ; and 
as but little defence could be brought, the Order of the Black 
Eagle was demanded from him in token of his disgrace, and he 
was shortly afterwards arrested, at his friend Wartenberg's 
house, and consigned to Spandau, amidst the execrations of the 

Two days afterwards, 2nd January, 1711, Ilgen was commis- 
sioned to notify to the Prime Minister the King's pleasure that 
he should retire to Woltersdorf (his only Prussian estate, about 
two miles from Berlin). This command he immediately obeyed, 
but sent to beg permission to take leave of the King before 
finally quitting his service and his dominions. Frederic saw fit 
to grant the request, and the interview accordingly took place. 

Well knowing his master's real kindness of heart, and per- 
sonal attachment to himself, the former favourite took advantage 
of both. Throwing himself at the King's feet, he embraced 
his knees, kissed and wept over his hand, and conjured him to 
let him die in his service ; to allow him to restore all his pos- 
sessions, since from his Majesty they.Jiad been received, but not 
to deprive him of the consolation of remaining about his person. 
The King, moved even to tears, raised and embraced him, as- 
suring him that nothing but the good of the kingdom would 
have induced him to have dismissed so long tried a servant. 
He then drew a costly ring from his finger^ and presented it 
to him, bidding him keep it as a sign of his undiminished 

Wartenberg then prepared to set out in company with his 
wife for Frankfort on the Main. Before his departure he wrote 
to the King, begging him to accept the before-mentioned estate 
of Woltersdorf, and the garden and palace which Frederic had 


presented to Madame de Wartenberg, after Queen Sophia Char- 
lotte's death. 

The Count's gift was accepted, but care was taken by 
Frederic that the donor should be re-imbursed to the full extent 
of its value. By the advice of the little Kamecke also, a pen- 
sion of 24,000 Thalers was settled upon Wartenberg, in order 
not to force him into a foreign service. 

On quitting Berlin, Count Kolbe Wartenberg is said to have 
carried away with him valuables to the amount of several mil- 
lions ; the Countess's jewels alone were valued at 500,000 
Thalers. She was in great fear that she might be deprived of 
these valuables upon the road, but they met with no molestation 
on the journey, with the exception of a demand for the key of 
the Grand Chamberlain's Office, and the patent of Grand Master 
of the Posts, which reached the Count at Eisenach, and to which 
he replied by despatching the insignia in question with the mes- 
sage that he would send his head, did the King require it of him. 

Frederic felt the loss of his favourite terribly, and would have 
gladly recalled him, could he have done it with consistency. He 
did in fact cause one overture to that effect to be made to him, 
but as the invitation was restricted by the clause that Madame 
de Wartenberg should be left behind, it is recorded, much to 
her husband's honour, that he declined to accept it on such 
terms, replying that he could not abandon a wife who was dear 
to him, and who had not forsaken him in his adversity. 

Count Kolbe Wartenberg died soon after his disgrace, in 
1712. Frederic was greatly afflicted at the intelligence; he 
remained for several days in retirement, and when, at his wish, 
the body was brought to Berlin for interment, the sight of the^ 
funeral procession, as it passed the palace windows, so affected 
him, that he burst into tears. 

After her husband's death, Madame de Wartenberg resided 
principally in Paris, where she is reported to have led a very 
profligate life. She died in 1734. 

The Count Donhoff and the two Dohnas, who had retired 


from Court after the ineffectual attempt which had been made 
to overthrow Wartenberg in 1702, now returned. Count 
Christopher Dohna, whose memoirs I have had frequent occa- 
sion to cite in the preceding pages, had always been a great 
favourite with the King,* on account of his vivacity and the 
finished elegance of his manners; and also because, although 
he was a polished courtier, his integrity and his high principles 
of honour had never been called in question ; his return was 
therefore welcomed by Frederic. 

Meanwhile, during the occurrences of the foregoing ministerial 
changes, the position of the Queen had also materially and de- 
plorably altered. The King had continued unremitting in his 
attentions to her, despite the ill-advised change which was dis- 
cernible in her demeanour, and in the regulations of her Court, 
which now, says Pollnitz, differed little from those of a convent ; 
an unvarying routine of prayers and sermons filled up the day, 
and entirely usurped the attention and time, part of which, at 
least, ought to have been devoted to the duties rendered im- 
perative by her high station as the first lady in the land, who 
should have served as a model of domestic virtues to the other 
matrons of the realm. 

Still Frederic expressed no actual disapprobation of a course 
which she evidently pursued from conscientious motives, until 
one day, about a year after their marriage, in the heat of a 
discussion upon the dogmas of her party, she unguardedly 
expressed her conviction that none of the upholders of the 

* The King used generally in his moments of familiarity to call Count Christo- 
pher "Peter," in reference to an anecdote related by Dohna, of his own anxiety 
respecting a favourite dog, which had made him for once even forget his usual 
courtly grace, and leave the audience chamber of a foreign prince precipitately, at 
recognising the voice of his friend Peter in distress. Count Dohna was treated 
with great favour by King William III. during his mission to England. He gives 
some interesting details of Lord Portland's views of Prussian affairs. 

He was more of a soldier than of a statesman, and had frequently won great 
applause for his conduct, especially during the siege of Bonn in 1694, and the 
subsequent warlike operations. He returned to Court in the interval between 
1702 and the Wartenbergs fall, but did not remain there. 


Reformed doctrines could hope for salvation. The King, 
wounded by the hasty remark, rejoined, " Then after my death 
you could not speak of me as the Mate King of blessed 
memory ? ' " Startled at this unexpected application of the 
opinion which had escaped her, the Queen hesitated, and then 
replied, " I would say, ' the dear departed King.' ' It was an 
unfortunate equivocation. From that moment the King's 
affection for her suffered a visible diminution. Mademoiselle 
Gravenitz was hastily dismissed from her post, Francke was 
ordered to return to Halle, and Porst admonished no further to 
occupy the Queen's attention with polemics. 

Left now much to herself, the Queen's spirits sunk beneath 
the loneliness and want of sympathy of her lofty but friendless 
position, and her mind, weakened by the habit of constant 
brooding over one subject, became the prey of a settled melan- 
choly. The King, whose visits had gradually become less fre- 
quent, now seldom saw her, and had no idea of the state of her 
health. The affairs connected with Wartenberg's disgrace, too, 
had for the time completely engaged his attention, and that 
minister's death had so depressed him, and taken such hold 
upon his mind, that to dissipate his grief his ministers had 
urged upon him a visit to Holland, with the view of terminating 
the difficulties relative to the Orange succession. 

In the ensuing year the fresh negotiations for peace between 
Louis XIV. and the allies ; the death of the Emperor Joseph, 
and the consequences resulting from it; the distress expe- 
rienced by Frederic on the suddenly-communicated intelligence 
of the accident which had carried off his rival, the Prince of 
Nassau Orange; together with his own failing health, so com- 
pletely occupied his mind, that the unfortunate Sophia Louisa, 
confined to the retirement of her own apartments, seemed to 
have been almost forgotten by him. Her attendants, too, were 
careful to conceal from him the fact that the morbid tendency 
of her mind had now assumed the character of disease that 
there were moments in which the usually gentle Queen was 


wrought up to a fearful pitch of excitement in short, that the 
subtle boundary which separates the realm of reason from the 
border territory of insanity was, in her case, overstepped, and 
that she was no longer mistress of her own actions. 

The birth of Frederic the Great in 1712 brightened the latter 
days of Frederic, although for a time it seemed probable that the 
delicate, though " engel-schones" child would, like its little bro- 
thers, not long survive its entrance into this troublesome world. 

Meanwhile, as has been stated before, the King's health had 
long been declining, although it had never been anything but 
feeble even in his best days. His long-standing asthma had 
now become exceedingly distressing ; he was confined to his 
apartment, and the flame of life already waned and flickered in 
its socket, when an incident of a most distressing nature 
occurred to hasten its extinction. In one of those fits of 
violence which had now become periodical, the unhappy Queen, 
escaping the vigilance of her attendants, clad only in her white 
night-clothes, with her long hair streaming about her shoulders, 
rushed through the gallery which connected her apartments 
with those of the King. Unheeding, in her excitement, the 
glass-door which closed the communication, she burst through 
this brittle barrier, flung herself, without a moment's warning, 
upon the King, who was sleeping in his chair, and overwhelmed 
him with reproaches. Startled thus suddenly from his slumber, 
and seeing before him a white figure, with dishevelled hair, 
covered with blood from the wounds inflicted by the broken 
glass, and giving way to the wildest gestures and most frantic 
exclamations, he imagined for the moment that he beheld the 
hereditary spectre of his house come to forewarn him of his 
approaching dissolution. 

The hasty approach of his attendants, alarmed by the noise, 
soon dispelled the illusion ; but the shock which he had under- 
gone brought on an attack of fever attended by delirium, during 
which he constantly exclaimed that he had seen the White Lady, 
and that his end was near at hand. 


His illness proved, indeed, to be his last. During the six 
weeks which it lasted he quitted his bed but once, on occasion 
of a temporary rally, and was placed near the window overlooking 
the Castle gardens. News of this improvement having rapidly 
spread amongst the promenaders, a crowd of eager citizens 
speedily collected, all anxious to catch a glimpse of their beloved 
monarch. He caused himself to be placed full in their view, 
and answered, with a gush of tears, the acclamations which rent 
the air, as the action was recognised and acknowledged. This 
was the last parting between Frederic and his people. 

Having given his final directions to his son, he assembled his 
family, and ordered his grandchildren to be brought, that he 
might give them his blessing. He then took leave of every 
one, and turning to his son, said, I leave you an earthly 
crown, whilst I go to receive a heavenly one, which the blood 
of Jesus has bought for me and for all the faithful." 

A quiet and easy death shortly afterwards relieved the feeble 
old man from the burden of government, now far too ponderous 
for his failing strength, and freed his frail body from the painful 
lingering hold of_life. 

Frederic the Great speaks harshly of the failings of his grand- 
father, and it must be allowed that there is much truth in the 
accusations which he brings against him. It is true that his 
mind was like a " mirror, which reflected all sorts of objects." 
It is true that " he gathered the flowers and neglected the 
fruits/' and alas ! it is but too true that he carelessly " sacri- 
ficed the blood of his subjects in imperial wars " in which he 
had no cause to lift the sword, and that he suffered human 
lives to pay the cost of trifling and frivolous acquisitions."* Yet 
despite these heavy charges, there is much to be said in his 
favour. Prussia owes to him not only the title which ranks 
her as a kingdom among the nations, but several of her best 

* Frederic was on the point of withdrawing 15,000 men from Flanders when, 
on receiving a jewel from the Orange succession, he suffered his troops to remain. 
" M6m. pour Seryir," &c. Fred, the Great. 


institutions and of her noblest buildings also. He was an 
honourable and faithful ally, even when his interest clearly 
pointed to a new order of political connections. He was an 
indulgent and affectionate master, and none had cause to com- 
plain of injustice at his hands. Very great and noble actions, 
or very wise measures, could not, with justice, be expected from 
a man to whom Providence had accorded but a limited share of 
mental strength and capacity ; and after all, the Great Judge 
demands not from him to whom He has given but the one 
talent the same interest as from him to whom He has intrusted 
the ten. So the first Frederic "slept with his fathers/' and in 
his stead reigned Frederic William his son. 

All unconscious of the disasters of which she had been the 
pitiable cause, the unfortunate Queen was conveyed, helpless, 
mindless, and melancholy, but once more gentle and calm, to 
the residence of her widowed mother at Grabow, in the province 
of Mecklenburg ; and here she passed the rest of her darkened 
life, a mournful instance of the "perverted notion, that religion 
was meant to be a thing apart from and beside actual life, not 
the vivifying principle and very mainspring of existence, which 
makes our simplest duties acts of acceptable worship when per- 
formed in its spirit and by its dictation. 





THIS Princess was the daughter of the Elector George Louis 
of Hanover, afterwards George I. of England, and the unfortu- 
nate Sophia of Zell. 

Deprived of her mother's care by the miserable event which 
blighted the existence, and unjustly dishonoured the name, of 
that unhappy lady, Sophia Dorothea spent the early years of 
her life at Hanover, under the superintendence and instruction of 
her grandmother the Electress Sophia, and Madame de Sacetot, 
a Protestant Frenchwoman, and in the companionship of her 
brother, the electoral Prince of Hanover and future sovereign of 

The crown Prince of Prussia had, as we have already seen, 
spent some time at Hanover when a child, and was to have 
remained yet longer, had not his quarrels with the electoral 
Prince necessitated his removal. The ridicule which his un- 
lucky passion for the Margravine Caroline of Anspach met with 
at a later period by no means tended to reconcile him to his 
cousin George Augustus ; but of the Princess Sophia Dorothea, 
who was only one year his senior, he seems to have retained a 
far more favourable impression ; so that of the three Princesses 
who were proposed to Frederic I. as desirable alliances for his 
son the Princess Ulrica of Sweden, sister of Charles XII. ; 


the Princess of Orange, and Sophia Dorothea of Hanover the 
crown Prince privately fixed upon the latter, although his father 
preferred the idea of a matrimonial alliance with Sweden. 
Therefore, when, under pretext* of an adjustment of the dis- 
putes wlrich had arisen between the respective Governments of 
the two Pomeranias, Finck was despatched to Stockholm to make 
the necessary investigations previous to entering upon matri- 
monial negotiations, Prince Frederic William entreated him to 
send such a report of the Princess Ulrica as might deter his 
father from carrying out the plan further in that quarter. 

In Finck's despatches, accordingly, he painted such a portrait 
of this Princess, and stated such obstacles to the purposed 
union, as were, in Frederic's eyes, a quite sufficient bar to its 
prosecution. He therefore now turned his attention towards 
the Princess of Hanover; and as this proposition was encoun- 
tered by no objections, proposals for a marriage between the 
heir of the Prussian Crown and the Princess Sophia Dorothea 
of Hanover were duly made and accepted by the respective 

The Electress Sophia, who was anxious that her grand- 
daughter should make a good appearance at Berlin, commis- 
sioned her niece, the Duchess of Orleans, to procure the 
trousseau in Paris ; and so splendid a bridal paraphernalia had 
never yet graced the wedding of any German Princess as that 
which the gratified Duchess displayed to the wondering, if not 
admiring, gaze of Louis XIV., who wished that, for the sake of 
the Paris merchants, all the Princesses of the Empire would 
send to his capital for their marriage outfit. 

With as little delay as the arrangements permitted, the mar- 
riage now took place, by proxy, at Hanover, in November, 
1706. The bride arrived at Berlin on the 27th of the same 
month. She was received at some distance from the gates by 
her father-in-law and her expectant bridegroom. 

When the Princess was apprized of the approach of the 

* Pollnitz. 


royal cortege, she descended from her carriage to meet the 
King, who did the like on his side. Having embraced her, he 
presented her to the crown Prince and to his own brothers 
and their wives ; he then placed her at his side in the royal 
carriage, and returned to Berlin, the crown Prince and the two 
Margraves accompanying them on horseback. The procession 
passed through streets lined with eager citizens, all crowding to 
greet and welcome their future mistress. 

The usual ceremony of the stately torch-dance, with twelve 
lords bearing tapers before, and twelve lords bearing tapers 
behind the bride and bridegroom ; the usual amount of ban- 
quets and balls, (which lasted for six weeks, and which were 
directed by the Margrave Albert, who had such " alternatives 
de rage et de reconciliation" with the maitres des ballets, as 
were more amusing than the ballets themselves,)* did not fail 
to grace this any more than any other royal wedding. Neither 
did the usual discussions upon the face, figure, bearing, and 
character of the new crown Princess fail to occupy all the 
social circles of the city of Berlin for the usual time. From 
the descriptions of those who knew her well, suppose we, too, 
draw a portrait of Sophia Dorothea.f She was tall, and at 
this period, slender in person ; she was perhaps never at any 
time to be called strictly handsome, but her figure was re- 
markably fine and her proportions exquisite; whilst the sin- 
gular grace and dignity of her deportment, the charm of her 
manner, the beauty of her large blue eyes " such eyes as are 
seldom seen" J and rich brown hair, left little to be desired, in 
point of personal attraction, in the bride. The bridegroom, on 
his side, was then sufficiently handsome in face and features, 
though his figure was bad, and his stature only five feet five. 
He was sincerely attached to his wife, although rather a faithful 
than a tender husband. " He had/' says Morgenstern, " none 
of that astonishing complaisance by which lovers, whether hus- 

* Pollnitz. t Pollnitz. Baireuth. 

Thiehault, "Souvenirs de Vingt Ans de Rejour si Berlin." 


bands or friends, seek to win the favour of the beloved object. 
As far as can be gathered from the words he occasionally let 
drop, the crossing of his first love might have been the inno- 
cent cause of this ;" and as the object of this passion, by the 
directions of her mother and grandmother, treated him with 
harshness, " where, then, could he learn to make love ? " says 
the sympathizing member of the smoking college ! Sophia 
Dorothea, then, or " Fiekchen," as he generally called her her 
husband's education having been so much neglected in this 
respect met with but few of the blandishments of affection 
from him, but its substance was not wanting either in sincerity 
or depth ; and though misunderstandings, which were sedu- 
lously fomented by those who had their own interests to serve, 
subsequently arose between them, he ever regarded her with 
an attachment which was undiminished, though it might be at 
times overclouded. 

The heart of King Frederic rejoiced at the birth of an heir 
to the throne, which took place the ensuing year. To announce 
at once his satisfaction, and his claim upon the Orange suc- 
cession, he directed that the young Prince should be called 
Prince of Orange. The Elector of Hanover, the States General, 
the thirteen Cantons of Switzerland, Queen Anne of England 
(who was represented by Raby), and the Duchess of Brunswick 
performed the office of sponsors on the occasion of the christ- 
ening. Frederic's rejoicing, however, was but of short dura- 
tion, for the infant did not survive many months. The discharge 
of cannon fired in his honour is said to have so startled the 
little Prince, that he died shortly afterwards.* 

It has been before mentioned that Frederic William joined 
the army under Marlborough in the year 1706, and was 
present at the battle of Malplaquet in 1709. The anni- 
versary of this day f was always afterwards celebrated by him 
with much solemnity, and with various ceremonies, commencing 

* Vehse. 

f " Karakterziige Friedricli Wilhelms." 


by a " Par-force- Jagd" at Wusterhausen, and terminating by 
a ball, to which no ladies were admitted, all the females retiring 
upon these occasions immediately after dinner. Bielefeld gives 
a description of one of these male terpsichorean performances, 
which, although it did not take place on the anniversary in 
question, but on a Sunday, after " church parade" and the 
mess dinner, may be considered as characteristic of all such 
occasions. After coffee a dance was proposed; and, to his 
great astonishment, whilst he was speculating as to where ladies 
were to be procured, one of the giants of the King's own regi- 
ment, with a " black-brown-red face," asked him to honour 
him with his hand as his partner in the minuet ! and the Baron 
was infinitely amused at beholding all the coy movements of the 
maiden and the advances of the lover, in the sort of courtship 
represented by this dance, gone through with the greatest 
gravity by a set of tall bearded fellows, each six feet high at least. 

In 1708, upon the testimony, false, or falsely reported, of 
the physicians as to the improbability of any future offspring 
from Sophia Dorothea, took place the marriage of the King 
with the unfortunate princess whose history we have just ter- 

In the following year the crown Princess again gave birth to 
a child, which, being a female, was but badly received. This 
unwelcome little stranger, " C'est ma petite figure," says the 
Margravine of Baireuth. Nevertheless, a poet who was blessed 
with so lively an imagination as to liken the birth of this child 
to the Nativity, and the three Frederics, the Kings of Denmark, 
Poland, and Prussia, (who had met at Potsdam to concert mea- 
sures against the aggressions of Charles XII. of Sweden, and 
who unconsciously signed their alliance on the very day of the 
battle of Pultowa,) to the wise men of the East, received from 
Frederic 1000 ducats as the reward of his originality. It was 
at the christening of this child that the contest between Madame 
de Wartenberg and Madame de Lintelo, which has been before 
described, took place. 

K 2 


The next child of Sophia Dorothea was once more a boy, and 
once more, the solemnities attendant upon his reception into the 
arms of the Church and the dignities of hereditary prince, 
proved fatal to the delicate heir of the Prussian kingdom. The 
crown of gold and precious stones which decked his baby brow 
was supposed to have been too heavy, as a discolouration was 
observed upon the head,* and this child also died a repetition 
of a catastrophe which leads to wondering surmises as to the 
tender mercies of Prussian nursing in those days. At last, in 
1712, the hopes of the nation were once more gratified by the 
birth of a male heir to the throne. It was, indeed, a delicate, 
weakly child, and one that gave but little hope of successful 
rearing, far less that he was one day to become the greatest 
monarch and the most extraordinary man of his age, the famous 
Frederic the Great. The life of this child, too, was for a time 
placed in great jeopardy by the overweening delight of its 
father, who held it so near the chamber fire, and so stifled it 
with caresses, that it was in imminent danger of suffocation, 
and was only rescued with difficulty by the intervention of the 

Shortly after this event, in 1713, occurred the death of 
King Frederic I., and the consequent accession of his son, 
Frederic William I. As we have seen so much of the turbu- 
lence of the boyish character of this monarch, we may as well 
proceed to ascertain whether in his case " the boy had proved 
the father to the man.' 3 

Frederic William was rigidly honest and upright in all his 
dealings ; highly religious, although his religion at times de- 
generated into bigotry; narrow-minded beyond measure in all 
that regarded enlightenment, intellectual culture, and such 
science as was not patent to his apprehension in its immediate 
practical utility. Rough to a degree of coarseness, which, at 
some parts of our narrative, we shall have to designate brutality, 
he was yet withal affectionate. Jealous and suspicious to excess 

* Vehse. 


in some things, he wa& nevertheless credulous and simple as a 
child in others, and as easy to be imposed upon. He was de- 
voted to the good of his people, yet he ruled them with a rod 
of iron, and at the same time with such a capricious exercise of 
his absolute power as caused him to be more feared than be- 
loved. But, says Forster,* " the prevailing characteristic of the 
Prussian people at this time was cowardice : the King had no 
haughty vassals, no proud prelates and supercilious citizens to 
control ; there was in no rank a sentiment of individual honour." 
Prussia was still in feeling but a little member of the German 
Empire, and needed a stern master to rouse her by his severity 
to a self-conscious desire for freedom and independence, and 
that stern master she found in Frederic William, " the hardy 
architect of the state, as well as of the capital, "f 

Frederic William, the great Elector, had laid the solid foun- 
dation and erected the substantial walls of the Prussian mo- 
narchy : Frederic I. placed a crown as keystone of the stately 
structure, and gave it the name of kingdom. Frederic William I. 
strengthened it to stand the test of time, and fortified it for 
the struggle which he foresaw awaited it, by the accumulation 
of those resources, and the formation of that splendid army, 
which, in the hands of his wonderful successor, bore the brunt 
of battle with the combined Powers of Europe, enabled him to 
persist when apparently on the verge of ruin, and finally, after 
a triumphant peace, to retire to the luxurious tranquillity of a 
stably-enlarged and consolidated kingdom, now holding rank 
amongst the first Powers of Europe. 

Violent in all his emotions, Frederic William retired from the 
death-bed of his father in a convulsion of grief, which prevented 
his noticing the congratulations that were offered him on his 

* Forster's ' ' Jugendjahre Friedrichs des Grossen." 

f Ibid. Frederic William, says Vehse, ' ' had a passion for building, or rather 
for making others build :" he ordered his subjects to build in the most arbitrary 
manner ; no remonstrance or appeal was admitted when once his laconic decree, 
"Der kerl ist reich, soil bauen" (The fellow is rich, shall build), had gone forth. 



accession to the throne, and shut himself into his chamber. His 
first act of authority was to call for a list of the officers of the 
household, and to draw a pen through the whole number. 
When Printz, the grand marshal, reappeared in the ante-room 
with this important paper, Tettau, chief of the gardes du corps, 
remarking the consternation depicted on his countenance, took 
it from his hand, and glancing at its defacement, exclaimed to 
the crowd of eager office-holders who thronged about him, 
" Gentlemen, our old master is dead, and our new one sends 
you all to the devil." * 

The whole Court, says the Marchioness of Baireuth, now 
changed its aspect as if by magic; the sword and buckler 
usurped the place of the robe of office, and everything assumed 
a military character. 

Frederic William appointed three new ministers, Grumbkow, 
Kreutz, and Kraut ; the two latter were men of low extraction, 
but of efficient talent. Grumbkow, who has been mentioned 
before, played a more prominent part, and his character appears 
to have been a singular, but by no means a praiseworthy one. 
His contemporaries state him to have been a man of infinite 
talent and resource; brilliant, spirituel, versatile, insinuating, 
but treacherous and unprincipled, f and his actions confirm 
their report. The character of the King's other principal 
friend and confidant at this time must be also briefly sketched 
here.J The Prince of Anhalt Dessau, the rough playmate and 
companion of Frederic William's rough boyhood, was, in his 
years of maturity, diligent, laborious, and indefatigable in busi- 
ness ; a firm friend, but a vindictive enemy. He was also 
coarse, cruel, and brutal, and his only idea of pleasure was 
debauch ; but his character for valour and conduct as a soldier 
and a general was beyond all dispute. The bond which more 
especially united him to the King was that sympathy of taste 
which made the useful, the beautiful, the end and aim and 

* Polluitz. f Pollmtz. Baireuth. J Ibid. 


purpose of life, to combine in the perfection of military 

In the year 1713 the conclusion of the peace of Utrecht 
recalled the Prussian troops, which had been engaged in the long 
wars, begun by the aggressive policy of France, and terminated 
by the divisions of the English councils. The Prussian arms 
were, however, soon again called into active service in carrying 
on the war with Sweden, upon which, however unwillingly, 
Frederic William saw himself compelled to enter, in alliance 
with Denmark and Poland. During the campaign of 1715 the 
Queen followed her husband to the field. The relations of 
the royal couple, with the King of Denmark, who was also in 
the camp, appear to have been of the most friendly and confi- 
dential nature, during this period. Croissi, the French 
ambassador to Sweden, also visited the camp, in the hope of 
being able to mediate between that country and Prussia; but 
the unsuccessful result of his mission justified the prophecy of 
the wits of Paris, that their ambassador would prove " too tall 
for the Laps, too short for the Swedes, and too frise for the King 
of Prussia." The war was therefore vigorously prosecuted. 
With the singular history of the capture of the fortifications 
of Stralsund, and the perilous escape of Charles XII. through 
the enemy's fleet, my history has nothing to do. I will there- 
fore pass over the intervening time till the return of Sophia 
Dorothea to Berlin, which was quickly followed by the birth 
of the Princess Philippina Charlotte, subsequently Duchess 

* Frederic William's passion for all that related to military affairs was so strong, 
that he could scarcely reconcile it to his ideas that heaven itself could present a 
state of perfect felicity if there were no drill among the angels ! It is related 
that once when very ill, he ordered a hymn to be sung in his presence, which con- 
tained the passage, "Naked came I out of the earth and naked shall I return 
thither again." The King here broke in, exclaiming, "That's a lie, I will be 
buried in my uniform." And when his pastor remarked that "there would be 
no soldiers in Heaven," he exclaimed, with evident disturbance, "Wie? Was 
sapperment ? Wie so?" and remained very much depressed for some time after 
receiving the answer, "Because no soldiers are needed there." See Vehse, 
"Preussische Hof." 


of Brunswick ; that of the Princess Frederiea Louisa had taken 
place in 1714. 

The Princess Royal was now eight years old, and projects 
for her marriage began to float, not only through the mind of 
her mother, but also through those of other persons, who had a 
less legitimate interest in it ; and now, alas, began the first of 
those unhappy intrigues which were destined so soon to inter- 
rupt the harmony that had hitherto reigned between the King 
and Queen. 

To make the course of events which I shall have to narrate 
intelligible, I must now give a short outline of the character of 
Sophia Dorothea, which, unfortunately perhaps, in many 
respects resembled that of her husband. She was, what he 
was not, possessed of more than all the pride of her house. 
She was, what he was not, ambitious to excess. But the points 
of resemblance were jealousy, suspicion, caprice, and a tendency 
to act upon the impulse of the moment, without any regard to 
consequences. And hence arose a world of minor causes, all 
tending to the arousing of those unhappy divisions which after- 
wards so wretchedly rent up the peace of their domestic circle. 
Added to this, Sophia Dorothea was unable to exist without a 
confidante, and she was not always judicious in the selection of 
those whom she trusted. Hence she was apt to bestow her un- 
limited confidence upon unworthy favourites, who abused it to 
their own interests, and betrayed her without any reserve. So 
great was her weakness in this respect, that even though she was 
apprised of their treachery, she still allowed the most important 
secrets to leak out by their means, and thus by degrees lost the 
confidence which her husband had at first reposed in her, 
when, during his absences in the course of the war, he had 
given orders that his ministers should consult her upon all 
emergencies, and take no measure of importance without her 
express sanction and signature; * and when in 1719, also, he 

* Forster's " Jugendjahre Friedrichs des Grossen." 


directed in his will that she should be left Regent, in case of 
his death, during his son's minority. It must not be supposed, 
because we have thus given a view of those peculiarities in her 
character which militated against her own views, and aided those 
of her enemies so materially, that there was no reverse to the 
medal, and that Sophia Dorothea had no good or great quali- 
ties. On the contrary, her daughter, the Margravine of 
Baireuth, who by no means spares her mother's faults, describes 
her as possessing "a good, generous, and benevolent heart." 
She was a virtuous and faithful wife ; and through all the long 
years of her marriage, and despite all the fearful paroxysms of 
anger to which she was sometimes subjected by her husband, 
she preserved an attachment to him which made her an un- 
wearied attendant throughout his many trying illnesses, and a 
tender nurse during the last painful days of his existence. 

The death of the Electress Sophia in 1713 had been followed 
in the ensuing year by the accession of Sophia Dorothea's father 
to the throne of England ; and to carry out a plan of alliance 
between her eldest daughter and the Duke of Gloucester, her 
brother's eldest son, the then heir presumptive to the throne of 
England, was the darling project which now occupied her mind. 
The alliance had been talked over whilst the children were yet 
scarcely out of their cradles. But the King's health was at 
this time precarious ; he was subject to attacks of illness which 
it was thought might suddenly deprive Prussia of her sovereign ; 
and this had awakened in the breasts of others, ambitious views, 
which were widely at variance with those of the Queen. She 
hoped to obtain the Regency during the minority of her son, 
should anything happen to her husband ; but Grumbkow and 
Anhalt, on the contrary, who built much on the extreme 
delicacy of the crown Prince, thought that by wedding the 
Princess Royal to Anhalt's nephew, the young Margrave of 
Schwedt, heir presumptive to the Crown, not only the Re- 
gency, but probably even the disposal of the ultimate succes- 
sion of the kingdom, with all the allodial estates, might fall into 


their hands; they accordingly brought over to their interests 
the Princess's governess, the daughter of Leti, the Italian his- 
torian,* a woman of interested and ambitious character, and of 
violent temper and passions, yet who seems to have taken pains 
in the instruction of her pupil. This person was induced to 
encourage the frequent visits of Schwedt, but he was a big, 
rude boy, and the little Wilhelinina could not endure him and 
his horse-play. This child appears to have been of an affec- 
tionate disposition, and a nervous, highly-excitable tempera- 
ment; and the overwhelming delight of her mother's return, 
and the caresses which she received on account of her improve- 
ment in growth and appearance during the Queen's absence, 
brought on an illness which nearly proved fatal to her. 

The Queen's favourite and confidante at this time was Made- 
moiselle von Wagnitz,f daughter of the gouvernante of the 
Margravine Albert, the King's aunt. Mademoiselle von Wagnitz 
was " belle comme un ange," but stupid and very unprincipled. 
She carried on a variety of disgraceful intrigues, encouraged by 
her mother, who, it is said, endeavoured with Kreutz's aid, even 
to entrap the King by the beauty of her daughter, whilst at the 
same time she was acquainting Rothenburg, the French minister, 
with the most private affairs of the Prussian Court, which had 
come to her knowledge by various underhand means. 

Grumbkow, jealous of the attempt upon the King, and appre- 
hensive of its success, set spies to work to discover Mademoiselle 
Wagnitz's intrigue with Kreutz. Having succeeded in doing 
so, he revealed all to his master, who, as he abhorred all levity 
of conduct, especially in the other sex, was very angry, and 
threatened to dismiss Mademoiselle von Wagnitz ; but the Queen 
being much attached to her,J he suffered her to be warned. 
Sophia Dorothea spoke kindly, though reprovingly, to the erring 

* Author of "Ritratti della casa Elettorale di Brandeburgo." "Hist, of Eliz. 
of England," &c. 

f Or Wackenitz. 

J "Because she had the art of amusing, a merit of no little distinction with 
the great." Pollniiz. 


damsel, but, far from being penitent, she resented the Queen's 
interference most insolently, stormed and scolded, and finally 
went into fits, so alarming the Queen, who was then enceinte, 
that she became very much indisposed. Even then Mademoiselle 
Wagnitz would have been forgiven, had she not caused villainous 
pasquinades against the King and Queen to be posted on the 
gates of the castle, upon which she was ignominiously dismissed. 

The next lady upon whom the Queen bestowed her confidence 
was Madame de Blaspiel, a far more deserving, but an equally 
indiscreet person, as we shall presently observe. 

Amongst the then reigning sovereigns of Europe were two 
who were regarded by Frederic William with an extreme degree 
of admiration and respect ; the Czar, Peter the Great, and 
Augustus the Strong, of Poland.* The occasion of a visit of 
the former to Berlin may therefore be supposed to have been an 
important epoch in the annals of the Court. Accordingly, we 
find very ample details of the event given by several authors, 
especially by the Margravine of Baireuth, amongst whose early 
recollections this visit occupies a prominent place. It also 
affords a curious instance of Frederic William's economy, even 
upon an occasion, when he might naturally be supposed to wish 
to display his utmost magnificence, in honour of his illustrious 
guest. The following are his orders to the general Directory. 
" I destine 5000 Thalers to defray the Czar's expenses from 
Memel to Wesel, but you are to make it appear as if it cost me 
at least 30,000 or 40,000." f 

The Czar Peter had already had an interview with Frederic 
William on the occasion of the marriage of his mece with the 
Duke of Mecklenburg, at Havelberg, about eleven miles from 

* Nov. 11, 1732, Grumbkow wrote to Seckendorf : "The King of Prussia, 
when he supped with me, repeated more than three or four tunes that the King 
of Poland was the greatest prince who had ever reigned, and the second whom he 
had known after Peter the Great." See Vehse, vol. ii. p. 309. 

-f- Forster's ' ' Jughend jahre. " 

J Catherine Iwanowna, daughter of the Czar's elder brother, Iwan Alexivwitz, 
and Duke Charles Leopold of Mecklenburg. 


Berlin. In the ensuing year, 1717, accompanied by the 
Czarina, he paid the visit in question to Berlin. 

To the Queen's great dissatisfaction, the place fixed on for the 
reception of these visitors was her own new palace, to which she 
had given the name of Monbijou, because, says her daughter, 
( ' it was indeed a gem/' * 

Sophia Dorothea had herself taken great delight in the deco- 
ration of this little palace, and the laying out of the gardens ; 
and she looked ruefully forward to the desecration of her little 
paradise by the intrusion of the Eussian Court and their attend- 
ants, whose manners were reported strongly to resemble those 
of the bears, which inhabited the forests of their native country, 
and who had wrought terrible havoc in the residences allotted 
for their reception in other capitals. She caused many of the 
choicest articles to be conveyed away, and denuded the apart- 
ments of all such furniture as could be removed without breach 
of hospitality. Her fears proved to be but too well grounded, 
for, on her mournfully revisiting it on the departure of her un- 
couth guests, she found ruin and dilapidation on all sides ; a 
veritable ( ' desolation de Jerusalem," writes the Margravine de 
Baireuth. She was obliged nearly to rebuild the whole edifice. 

However, Peter the Great was a powerful ally, and it was 
necessary to receive him and his Czarina with all apparent 
cordiality.f The King and Queen accordingly received them 
on their disembarkation ; the Queen gave the Czarina her hand 
to assist her to land, but repulsed the Czar's attempt to embrace 
her, possibly with a remembrance of the last embrace to which 
she had submitted from him when as a child he had so " de- 

* Thiebault's account of this palace is more detailed and less inviting. "It 
was built," says he, "near the Spree, in a low meadow, which was generally inun- 
dated ; in front was a flat terrace, bordered by willows. It was afterwards nearly 
surrounded by barracks. It had formerly been the property of Madame de 
Wartenberg, who offered it to King Frederic I. after the disgrace of her husband. 
Frederic accepted the gift, but paid its value in money to the giver." See above 
Life of Louisa Meek. Schwerin. 

t The account of this vi,-it is chiefly taken from " Mem. dc Baireuth." 


ranged her fontange.* The Czarina repeatedly kissed the 
Queen's hand, and introduced to her the Duke and Duchess of 
Mecklenburg, who had accompanied them. Her Royal High- 
ness was attended by a most extraordinary crew of " maids of 
honour," whom the Queen declined to notice ; the Czarina, in 
return, thought it incumbent on her to be very haughty in her 
manner to the princesses of the blood, and the Queen's other 

The Czar and Czarina afterwards paid a visit to the Queen at 
Berlin ; she received them in the great hall, and preceded them 
to the salle des gardes, giving her hand to the Czarina. The 
Czar, who had seen the Princess Royal before, f " flayed " her 
cheeks by a salute from his rough visage, which liberty she re- 
sented by a box on the ear. 

The Czarina in person was " short and ramassee, very tawny, 
and with so little air or grace, that her extraction might be 
easily guessed; and from her toilette she might have been mis- 
taken for a German comedienne. Her dress seemed to have 
been bought at la friperie ; it was made k 1' antique, very much 
loaded with silver and tinsel : the design of the stomacher was 
singular; it was a double eagle, whose plumes were garnished 
with brilliants of the smallest carat, and very badly mounted. 
She had a dozen orders, and as many portraits of saints, and 
relics, attached all along the facing of her robe, so that when 
she walked one could have imagined one heard the jingling of 
a mule's bells, all the orders knocking against each other, and 
producing the same sound." J 

" The Czar, on the contrary, was very tall and well made, his 
features were handsome, but there was something so rough in 
his physiognomy that it caused fear : he was attired like a sailor, 
in a dress all of the same material." 

The Czarina, who spoke and comprehended German very indif- 
ferently, at last, tired of her fruitless efforts to understand and 

* See Life of Sophia Charlotte. f During his visit to Berlin in 1712. 

Baireuth. S Ihid. 


be understood in her conversation with the Queen, beside whom 
she was seated under the dais, summoned her fool, and talked 
with her in Russian, frequently bursting into fits of laughter 
at what she said. This unhappy creature was the Princess 
Gallitzin. She had been implicated in a conspiracy against the 
Czar, and twice knouted in consequence. To save her life she 
had feigned to be mad, until the harsh treatment she received 
had driven her really so. The Czar, it is said, used to treat her 
with the greatest brutality,* saying that if she were mad, she 
ought to be used as if she were ; sometimes in a jocose mood, 
when he had finished his own meal, he would throw the re- 
mainder at her head. She now filled the post of fool to the 
Czarina. At dinner the Czar was seated beside the Queen ; the 
attempt that had been made to poison him in his youth had 
left an affection of the nerves which occasionally seized him like 
a convulsion fit ; this was the case at dinner, and he made such 
frightful contortions, and brandished his knife in such alarm- 
ing proximity to the Queen, that she was upon the point of 
rising several times. In his attempts to reassure her, the Czar 
pressed her hand with such force that she was obliged to cry out 
for mercy ; this so much amused him that he laughed heartily, 
saying " her bones were more delicate than those of his Cathe- 
rine." After supper he slipped away from the ball which 
succeeded, quietly, and returned alone and on foot to Mon- 

One of the remains of barbaric simplicity which still clung 
to the Czar was, that he asked for whatever he admired. This 
was the more awkward, because, unlike a barbarian, he ad- 
mired only that which was really valuable. Amongst the 
objects thus unceremoniously demanded was a very beautiful 
cabinet,f entirely fitted, up with amber, and immensely costly. 

* Pollnitz. 

*h Pollnitz says this was presented at Havelberg by the King, on the Czar's 
visit to that place in 1716. The King also presented him with a yacht which was 
valued at 100,000 crowns. "Mem. pour servir a 1'Hist. des Quatre derniers 
Souverains de Brandebourg." 


This was accordingly conceded with as good a grace as could 
be assumed, and despatched to adorn the palace of the Czar's 
northern capital. 

These troublesome guests took their departure shortly after- 
wards, leaving the Queen to mourn over, and repair as best she 
might, the devastation of her favourite residence. 

The Prince Royal was now five years old an age at which 
it was thought advisable to remove him from the care of 
Madame de Rocoulles, who will be remembered as the early 
instructress of Frederic William himself, and place him under 
male superintendence. Two military governors were therefore 
selected for this office ; one of them was Finck of Finckenstein,* 
who is said to have been the choice of the Queen herself, pos- 
sibly from a secret prejudice in favour of the ambassador, 
whose representations had caused her to be preferred to the 
Princess Ulrica of Sweden, in the selection of a bride for 
Frederic William. 

The second military governor was Kalkstein : he was a 
favourite with the King, because he was a good table com- 
panion. In addition to these two gentlemen, Duhan de 
Jandunf was entrusted with the general education of the 
Prince ; he was a Frenchman, and, fortunately for the crown 
Prince, an elegant scholar, and an upright and amiable man. 

It might not have been expected that the King would have 

* Finck had been appointed governor to Fred. William himself, after the 
retirement of Count Alex. Dohna, in 1702. He distinguished himself at the 
battle of Blenheim, of which he brought the intelligence to Berlin. 

f The crown Prince became much attached to Duhan. I transcribe a note 
written by him to his preceptor at the age of fifteen, which, at least, proves that 
there was no doubt as to the capability of affection in Frederic's mind at that 
time, whatever it may prove as to his teacher's success in instructing him in 
French : 

" Mon cher Duhan, 

"Jevous promets que quand j'aurez mon propre argent en main, je Vous 
donnerez annuellment 1400 ec\is par an, et je Vous aimerais encor un peu plus 
qu'a present s'il me Test possible. 

" FREDERIC, Pr. r. 

" Potsdam, le 20 Juin, 1727." 


chosen such a person for his son's education, which he wished 
to be, in the most exclusive sense, a military one ; but Jandun 
had been with his pupil, the son of Count Dohna, at the siege 
of Stralsund, and Frederic William had conceived a respect for 
the preceptor who accompanied his charge to the field of battle. 
To this lucky accident, therefore, was attributable the appoint- 
ment of Duhan, to whom Frederic the Great owed all the 
knowledge he acquired in his youth, as well as that taste for 
learning which in later times acquired him the title of the 
" Philosopher of Sans Souci." To these gentlemen the King 
himself furnished instructions, which entered into the most 
minute details not only of the education of his son, but even of 
his toilet, occupations and recreations. Of these instructions 
a specimen will be presently offered. 

The course of the crown Prince's education was, by his 
father's directions, to embrace geography and history ; the 
latter to be studied on a system of Frederic William's own pro- 
pounding. Ancient history was to be cursorily passed over; 
that of the middle ages to be left untouched, but that of modern 
times, especially of the last one hundred and fifty years, and 
of the connected houses of Brandenburg, Hanover and Bruns- 
wick, to be studied with attention, because " domestic has more 
force than foreign example." In prosecution of this idea, when 
the " Theatrum Europseum" was proposed as the best com- 
pendium of history for the Prince's use, his father enjoined 
that the study of Greek and Roman history should also be 
entirely omitted, because " elles ne sont bonnes a rien." 
The Prince was to learn much by heart to strengthen his 
memory. The German language, though not altogether left 
out of this catalogue of princely studies, was only mentioned 
cursorily, as of slight importance ; so that when, after his ac- 
cession to the throne, Professor Gotteshed suggested to Frederic 
IT. that the German language required encouragement, " Yes," 
said he, " I have read no German book from my youth, 
Je le parlc comme un cocher, and I am now too old to im- 


prove." The French language was therefore to be chiefly 
cultivated by the crown Prince; Latin was absolutely forbidden. 
An anecdote is related, that the King, once coming in when the 
Prince was taking his lesson, from an earlier tutor, who was 
employed for a time, heard some barbarous Latin expressions, 
and asked the teacher what he was doing ; he replied, " Sire, 
I am explaining the auream bullam. " (( I will auream bullam 
you," interrupted the King, in a rage, and, raising his cane, 
he drove the unlucky preceptor from the room and his office at 
the same moment. 

This early neglect of the learned languages Frederic the 
Great never repaired, although he constantly regretted his igno- 
rance of them to the last. 

The following is an extract from the above-mentioned in- 
structions, delivered by the King to Duhan, at a later period :* 

"Sept. 3rd, 1721. On Sunday he (the crown Prince) shall 
rise at seven o' clock. As soon as he has put on his slippers, 
he shall kneel down by the bed-side, and say a short prayer 
aloud, so that all in the room can hear. The prayer, which he 
must learn by heart, is as follows." [Here follows the prayer 
to be made use of.] "As soon as he has done this he shall dress 
himself as quickly as possible, wash himself clean, and have his 
hair dressed and powdered. The prayer and the dressing must 
be finishedf in a quarter of an hour, by which time it will be a 
quarter past seven. When this is done his servants and Duhan 
shall come in, in order to hold the long prayer, kneeling. 
Dahan shall read a chapter out of the Bible, and sing some 
hymn, until a quarter to eight ; then all the servants shall with- 
draw, and Duhan shall read the Gospel for Sunday, with my 
son, explain it briefly, and also bring forward what is necessary 
to true Christianity, and make him repeat Noltenius's cate- 
chism. Then my son shall come down to me, go to church and 
breakfast with me, and then the rest of the day is before him. 

* Preuss, " Jugendjahre Fried, des Gross," vol. i. "Lebens Gteschichte." 
t Orig. "fixundfertigseyn." 


In the evening he shall bid me good night at ten o'clock, go 
direct to his room, undress quickly, wash his hands," &c. 
" On Monday he shall be called at half-past five, and you are 
to instruct him that, as soon as that is done, he shall get up 
immediately, instead of turning over to rest again; he must 
kneel down and repeat the short prayer, as on Sunday ; he 
must then as quickly as possible put on his shoes and stockings, 
and wash his face and hands, but not with soap ; he shall then 
put on his casaquin, and have his hair dressed and combed, 
but not powdered. "Whilst he is having his hair dressed and 
combed, he shall take his tea and breakfast, so that is all one 
work. This must all be done before half-past six." " At a 
quarter to eleven he shall wash his face with water only, and 
his hands with soap, put on his coat quickly, be powdered, and 
come to me." 

With the like minuteness, are likewise prescribed the studies 
of every hour of every day in the week. But, above all other 
things, the taste for military pursuits was to be inculcated in 
the education of the crown Prince. " You are to impress upon 
my son," says Frederic William, "that nothing in the world 
but the sword can procure him fame and honour ; he will be 
contemptible before the world if he does not love it, and seek 
his only glory in it." Of the success of Frederic William's 
system of education we shall have more to say by-and-by. 

In the meantime the crown Prince was for a time in great 
danger of being left fatherless, with the prospect of a long 
minority, and a disputed regency; for in 1719 the King, who 
had gone to his regiment at Brandenburg, was seized with a 
violent fit of illness, and but little hope was entertained of his 
recovery. The Queen was sent for in haste. When she ar- 
rived the King presented her with a packet containing his 
will, by which he had left to her the regency of the kingdom, 
appointing the Emperor and the King of England, guardians to 
the crown Prince. He enjoined upon her the strictest secrecy 
as to the contents of the document. Grumbkow and Anhalt, 


hearing that the will had been thus confided to the custody of 
the Queen, and anxious beyond measure to ascertain its con- 
tents, applied themselves to Madame de Blaspiel, offering her 
a bribe to procure them information on the subject, and to 
interest the Queen in their favour. Madame de Blaspiel was 
justly indignant, and informed the Queen j she, in her turn, 
made the King acquainted with their conduct ; and the conse- 
quence was, that when Anhalt and Grurabkow presented them- 
selves to demand an audience, they were received by the Queen, 
who, confident in her position, displayed no lack of hauteur, 
informing them that the King was at that time too ill to see 
them, but that he requested they would return to Berlin, there 
to keep order during his absence. 

On Anhalt's endeavouring to speak, she feigned to be so 
overwhelmed with the fatigue of her arduous duties as nurse, 
that she could not listen to him. Thus foiled, Grumbkow and 
Anhalt had nothing for it but to retire, with an additional degree 
of ill-will towards the Queen, and of curiosity respecting the 
all-important document with which she was intrusted. An 
accidental circumstance procured them the means of acquiring 
information on this subject. Madame de Blaspiel had allowed 
Count de Manteufel,* the Saxon ambassador, to obtain a com- 
plete influence over her heart, and part of the correspondence 
between them having fallen into the King's hands, he, who had 
" never learned to make love," did not understand it, but gave 
the letters to Grumbkow, in order to ascertain whether they 
threatened any danger to the State. Grumbkow joyfully turned 
this knowledge of Madame de BlaspiePs secret to account, by 
employing Manteufel to win her over, to endeavour, if possible, 
to withdraw the will from the Queen's hands, or at least to gain 
a knowledge of its contents. 

Madame de Blaspiel was for a long time incorruptible ; but 
the reproaches of her lover at length prevailed over her fidelity, 
and she besought the Queen to inform her of the contents of 

* He was a Prussian by birth, but had entered the Saxon service. 

L 2 


the document which was evidently matter of so much self- 
gratulation to her. Her too-confiding mistress not only allowed 
herself to be decoyed into this foolish compliance, but even 
suffered the will itself, to remain for some time in the hands of 
Madame de Blaspiel. Its contents, thus divulged, became 
matter of somewhat uncomfortable discussion between the two 
worthy allies. Jealous of the influence of the Queen, which 
was still in the ascendant, as the King, having fallen into a 
sort of hypochondriac state after his recovery, rarely left her 
society, they sought by all means in their power to lessen her 
influence. She was known to be fond of cards. It was ascer- 
tained that she had been obliged to borrow 30,000 crowns 
secretly, and the disappearance of a pair of brilliant ear-rings, 
the King's present, which Sophia Dorothea rarely wore, because 
she had " lost" them several times, put it into the subtle brain 
of Grumbkow that they had gone to pay her debts at play. He 
informed the King of his suspicions. The Queen, on her part, 
forewarned by Monsieur de Kamecke, whom Grumbkow had 
tried to induce to join in his plans, complained to her husband 
of the intrigues which Grumbkow was carrying on against her. 
The affair of Clement* meantime supervened, and amongst the 
persons implicated by his confessions, and those of his accom- 
plices Lehman and Boube, was M. de Troschke, gentleman of 
the chamber to the late King, and spy in the Swedish war. 
Amongst his papers were found some letters from Madame de 
Blaspiel, which spoke very unguardedly of the King. Grumb- 

* Clement was a Hungarian nobleman of doubtful origin. He gained access to 
the King, and succeeded in entirely convincing him, by means of forged letters 
from Prince Eugene and others, of the existence of a plot between the Courts of 
Vienna and Dresden, to take him prisoner, educate the crown Prince in the 
Roman Catholic religion, and place him upon the throne under the guardianship 
of the Emperor. Anhalt and Grumbkow, and even the Queen herself, were 
accused of being privy to the conspiracy. Strange as it may seem, so great was 
the King's confidence in this man, that even after his confession he could scarcely 
bring himself to believe him guilty, and almost repented having suffered him to 
be executed ; although no mercy was shown to his less guilty accomplices, and 
many entirely innocent persons were imprisoned on his accusation. 


kow, who suspected her of having informed the Queen of his 
plots, was delighted to bring these letters to Frederic William, 
whom he irritated against her additionally. She was arrested 
and examined; on her trial she avowed undauntedly that she 
had made use of the expressions in question, with respect to 
the unjust imprisonment of Kamecke, which had taken place 
shortly before.* 

The Queen meanwhile was in an agony ; the will was still in 
Madame de Blaspiel's keeping, and how to extricate it, before 
the sealing of her effects should bring to the King's knowledge 
the fact, that it had been allowed to pass out of his wife's hands, 
was a matter of extreme difficulty. In this emergency Sophia 
Dorothea had recourse to her chaplain, a mild and benevolent 
man, who went to the officer commissioned to seal up Madame 
de Blaspiel's effects, and succeeded in rescuing the important 
document in time. 

But the melancholy position of her favourite to whom she 
was sincerely attached, and the loss of her society and friend- 
ship, weighed upon the Queen's spirits ;f and during the period 
preceding the birth of the Princess Sophia Dorothea, she was 

* Pollnitz gives a different version of this affair, but as the Margravine of 
Baireuth refers to the Queen as her authority, I have followed her account. 
Pollnitz says that the correspondence on account of which Madame de Blaspiel was 
arrested had been carried on with Flemming, the Prussian Resident at Dresden. 
The Margravine de Baireuth also gives an account of a horrible conspiracy of 
Anhalt and Grumbkow to destroy the King and the Prince Royal at the theatre, 
hints of which were given by Madame de Blaspiel to the Queen, who pre- 
vented her husband from going ; but as this is nowhere else mentioned, and may 
be supposed to have originated in the ill-will of the Queen's party to the Grumb- 
kowists, I have not inserted an account of it. On her second examination, by the 
venal judge Katsch, the unfortunate Madame de Blaspiel behaved with the 
greatest courage, repelling with womanly dignity the insults she was subjected 
to in the examination. She was, however, sent to the fortress of Spandau, where 
she was twice inhumanly kept for twenty-four hours without food, in a room 
whose bare walls were the only accommodations permitted by her cruel jailors. 
She was afterwards more leniently treated, but her imprisonment continued for a 
year, when she was allowed her liberty, although under sentence of banishment. 
Frederic the Great, to please his mother, afterwards made her governess to his two 
younger sisters. 

f "Mem. de Baireuth." 


a prey to the deepest melancholy. Although her Oberhof- 
meistorin, Madame de Kamecke, was an excellent woman, she 
by no means supplied the place of Madame de Blaspiel, and 
Madame de Rocoulles was too old to be much of a companion. 
In her usual necessity for a confidante, the Queen turned to 
the Princess Royal, now nearly ten years old, and seems, after 
various trials of the child's discretion, to have made her the 
depository of her secrets, a dignity which entailed upon the 
poor child the consequences of Mile. Leti's jealousy and dis- 
appointed curiosity, in the shape of kicks, cuffs, blows and 
bruises,* which harsh treatment, partly out of fear, and partly 
out of a remains of affection for Leti, the Princess concealed 
from her mother's knowledge. 

About this time dysentery broke out frightfully at Berlin; 
the doors of those who had it were barricaded, under the idea 
that it was infectious. The King, Queen, and Princess Royal, 
were at Wusterhausen at the time. The King was attacked by 
the epidemic ; during his illness, although the weather was hot, 
the royal apartment was kept carefully closed, whilst a large 
fire was constantly maintained. It is not astonishing that the 
child, whose place was to remain close by this fire the whole 
day, and whose complaints of headache and restlessness at 
night Madame de Kamecke quieted by giving her a psalm or 
two to learn by heart, should have taken the complaint, which 
brought her, as well as her sister Frederica, to the verge of 
death, whilst it carried off the Prince William.t 

The conduct of Leti now became too gross and violent for 
further concealment. She quarrelled with Eversmann, the 
Kammerdiener, who immediately made revelations of her treat- 
ment of the Princess ; she was dismissed in disgrace ; in 
revenge for her dismissal, she did not content herself with only 
carrying off the chief part of the Princess's wardrobe, but also 
spread all sorts of reports injurious to her at Hanover, whither 

* "Mem. de Baireuth." 

t This prince was born shortly after the disgrace of Mile. Wagnitz. 


she had retired. The consequences of these reports, that the 
Princess Royal of Prussia was deformed, passionate, and subject 
to epilepsy, were soon apparent in the unwillingness of the 
English Court to carry out the arrangements for the double 
marriage, which, to the Queen's great satisfaction, had been 
agreed upon during a visit which she had made to Hanover 
some time previously. Besides, neither the Princess of Wales 
nor Lady Darlington, the King's ambitious mistress, wished 
that the Duke of Gloucester should marry into a powerful 
house, and bring home a Princess, who perhaps, might counter- 
act their own influence. 

It was in consequence of these misrepresentations and dis- 
sentient views, that Mile, de Pollnitz was despatched, as we 
have before seen,* to ascertain the actual qualifications, both 
mental and physical, of the young Princess. But Mile, de 
Pollnitz was interested to discover defects. " She found fault," 
says the Margravine de Baireuth, " with my dress, my shape, 
my air." The Queen was weak enough to be influenced against 
the evidence of her own senses by Mile, de Pollnitz's repre- 
sentations, and, to improve her figure, she caused the poor 
Princess to be screwed into corsets, which rendered her (t black 
with the stoppage of the circulation ."f 

Still the affair lingered on, the King was angry, and the 
Queen was mortified ; at length, in a visit which she paid to 
her father, in 1723, she prevailed on him to promise both to 
give his consent to the marriages, and to come to Berlin to 
judge for himself as to the truth of the reports concerning her 

Triumphantly she now wrote to her husband that the affair 
was settled beyond dispute. Great preparations were made in 
Berlin and Charlottenburg for the reception of King George I., 
who arrived at the latter place on the evening of October 8. 
The King and Queen, and all the Princes and Princesses were 
assembled to receive him when he alighted from his carriage. 
* See Life of Sophia Charlotte. f Baireuth. 


On entering his chamber, to which he was accompanied by 
all the royal family, he took a candle, and holding it before the 
Princess Royal, surveyed her from head to foot, an ordeal 
which greatly disconcerted her. At supper the King of 
England was seized with a kind of fit,* he attempted to leave 
the room, but fell on the floor, and remained insensible for 
some time. On his recovery, however, he insisted on seeing 
the Queen, his daughter, to her apartment, as if nothing had 
occurred. The next day he was sufficiently recovered to go 
out, and the treaty of the double marriage was once more 
talked over. His Majesty of England declared that he was 
willing to give his own consent, and that he only awaited that of 
his Parliament to ratify the agreement. The King of Prussia 
was thus induced to renew his former treaty with England, and 
measures were concerted for the limitation of the ambitious 
views which Russia seemed inclined to advance. 

It was then agreed that Frederic William and Sophia 
Dorothea should return the visit at Goehr, and the two mo- 
narchs parted mutually satisfied. 

The Queen had been for some time afflicted with a mysterious 
complaint, which completely baffled the skill of her medical 
attendants. On the night preceding the intended departure for 
Goehr, Frederic William was roused by the intelligence that his 
wife was taken seriously ill ; in great alarm he hastened to her 
bedside, and assisted to apply the remedies which were deemed 
advisable, when, to the astonishment of her attendants, the 
Queen's sufferings terminated in the birth of a daughter. This 
denouement, and the part which he was called upon to act in it, 
greatly diverted the King, more especially as, no such event 
having been anticipated, neither baby-linen nor nurse had been 
provided. This infant was christened the following day by the 
name of Amelia.f The Prince and Princess Royal of Prussia, 

* Baireuth. This seizure appears to have been premonitory of the one which 
carried off George the First on his journey to Osnabruck in 1727. 
f Afterwards Abbess of Quiedlinburg. 


the Duke of Gloucester, and the Princess Amelia of England, 
now considered as respectively betrothed, were named sponsors, 
and it was in honour of the English Princess that the child 
received the name of Amelia. 

During the King's absence on his visit to Goehr the Queen's 
enemies were not idle ; it was represented to him that the know- 
ledge of her situation had been purposely withheld from him ; 
in short, that he had cause for jealousy. Credulous, as usual, 
he allowed himself to be influenced by these ridiculous insinua- 
tions, and, on his return to Berlin, he shut himself up in his 
room, instead of going directly to the Queen, as was customary 
with him ; being necessitated, also, on going to supper, to pass 
through his wife's room, when she was still confined to her 
bed, he did so hastily, without speaking to her. Astonished at 
this unusual conduct, on his return she called him, and tenderly 
reproached him for his unkindness ; upon which he burst into 
the most violent reproaches for her supposed infidelity. The 
Queen, whose conduct in this respect had ever been above sus- 
picion, replied by assurances which did but the more irritate 
him. Furious with passion, he raised his hand as if to strike 
her, when Madame de Kamecke seized his arm, telling him 
that " if he had only come there to kill his wife, he had better 
have kept away." Erederic William, unused to such bold 
language, thereupon retired, saying that they should hear from 
him on the morrow. The next day he accordingly summoned 
Madame de Kamecke, the physician Stahl, and his regimental 
surgeon, Holzendorf, to hold a sort of court-martial upon the 
Queen's conduct. Being assured by all of them that his sus- 
picions were without the shadow of a foundation, and, being, 
moreover, soundly scolded by the intrepid Madame de Kamecke, 
who told him that " if he were not her king she would strangle 
him on the spot" for his insulting suspicions of herself and her 
mistress, and that he did not deserve such a wife, he consented 
to be brought to reason, and to beg pardon of the Queen, to 
whom he said that the excess of his affection had led him to the 


violence of which he had been guilty. And she, says Pollnitz, 
being accustomed to his " vivacities," made no difficulty about 
a reconciliation. 

We now come to a break between the hitherto inseparable 
allies Grumbkow and Anhalt. The former, thinking it well to 
be upon the winning side, had reconciled himself to the Queen 
during her father's visit to Charlottenburg ; and when Anhalt 
pressed upon the King that his father-in-law had taken no 
further steps in the matter of the marriages, and otherwise so 
worked upon his mind as to induce him to inform the Queen 
that, if these marriages were not carried out within two months, 
he would hear no more of them, but choose another son-in-law 
Grumbkow not only did not support his ally, but rather tried 
by underhand means to defeat his schemes, and even obtained 
from the King the concession that the negotiations respecting 
this much -vexed matrimonial alliance should be left in the 
hands of the Queen. 

A cause, trivial and even absurd in itself, perhaps contributed 
as much as anything to the miscarriage of these negotiations. 
Frederic William's military tastes have before been adverted to. 
During his father's lifetime he had commenced the formation 
of a regiment of tall recruits, which he had been obliged to 
keep sedulously concealed from the paternal eye, exercising them 
privately at Mittenwalde,* and giving orders that should the 
King pay one of his infrequent visits to that place, they should 
instantly conceal themselves, and remain perdus till his depar- 
ture. On Frederic William's accession, he had felt deeply 
grieved and astonished that the citizens of Berlin should refuse 
to receive his pet giants into quarters among them. The great 
Elector had built a house and laid out gardens in the Dutch 
style at Potsdam; these gardens his grandson turned into 
parade grounds, and here he established his " blue children,' 
as they were called on account of the colour of their uniform. 
Bielefeld gives a description of this regiment of colossi. " Na- 
* See Morgenstern. 


ture," he says, "who has been so lavish to them in one respect, 
has been but a niggardly step-dame in others. They had either 
ugly faces, or crooked legs, or some other defect."* However, 
Frederic William lavished enormous sums upon them : some 
of the peculiar giants had as much as two florins pay per day, 
and were allowed to carry on a trade besides. No sum was 
considered, by the usually parsimonious King, too large to be 
paid for a huge grenadier ; and those potentates who wished to 
be on a friendly footing with the King of Prussia, had nothing 
to do but to search their dominions for the tallest specimens of 
humanity contained in them. A present of a recruit of six feet 
might be counted on to secure Frederic William's friend- 
ship ; of six feet two, his warmest alliance ; and so on in 

The tallest and finest of these grenadiers was an Irishman, by 
name James Kirkland, whose procural and transmission from 
his native bogs to the parade-ground at Potsdam, had cost 
Frederic William upwards of 1200/. sterling.f But no one 
whose stature had obtained a more than ordinary growth was 
safe from the hands of his Majesty's recruiters. At one time a 
young man, by name Schindorf, who had been diligently pro- 
secuting the study of law for five years at Halle, disappeared 
suddenly; he was a very tall man; the dreaded recruiting 
Wagen had been seen in the neighbourhood ; the combination 
was easy, the deduction certain. The college sent up a remon- 
strance, March 10, 1731, upon this misappropriation of mind 
to the mere purposes of matter. The King's answer was given 

* Although Bielefeld speaks thus disparagingly of the personal appearance of 
his blue children, the King, like other partial parents, greatly admired their 
"ugly faces." He had all their portraits taken and hung in the gallery of the 
palace ; and of one, who was super-eminently gigantic, he caused a statue to be 
made, and coloured as near to the tints of life as possible ! See Vehse. Frederic 
the Great had the bad taste to dismantle this gallery of what might be called 
"the beauties" of Frederic William the First, on his accession. 

h The Prussian Minister in England, in his account to the King of Prussia of 
the expenses incurred by the capture, outfit, and journey of this recruit, makes 
the whole amount to 1266Z. 10s. 


in his usual concise style, " Shall not reason. Is my 
subject." * 

His passion for tall soldiers led him to wish to raise a race of 
large people, so as to be able to recruit his great regiment with- 
out trouble. One day meeting a very tall and well-made village 
girl in the neighbourhood of Potsdam, he asked her to take a 
note, which he wrote on the spot, to the captain of his regiment. 
Either suspecting something, or being in a hurry, the girl gave 
the note to a little old woman whom she fell in with, and 
charged her to deliver it as directed. This note contained an 
order to the captain to have the bearer instantly married to the 
tallest man in the regiment, whose name was specified. On 
being acquainted with his fate, and introduced to his bride, the 
poor young fellow was in despair. He begged and entreated, 
fell on his knees and wept, but all to no purpose ; the King's 
will was law, and the matrimonial noose was tied. However, 
the King, on hearing of the exchange of brides that had been 
made, allowed the marriage to be dissolved. 

But it was not only in his own dominions, and at the expense 
of his own subjects, that Frederic William indulged his foible. 
His kidnappers roamed over the territories of his neighbours in 
all sorts of disguises, and incurred all sorts of dangers in quest 
of tall recruits. At one time an Italian priest f was seized as 
he was performing mass in a village church in the Tyrol. At 
another, the tall Austrian envoy Bentenrieder, whose carriage 
had broken down at the gates of Halberstadt, and who had left 
his servants with it whilst he himself went to seek assistance, 
was taken possession of. These outrages had taken place in 
Hanover as well as in other States : the people were everywhere 

* Forster, " Jugendjahre." The University of Halle sent up a remonstrance to 
the King, dated March 10, 1731, because "Johan Gottlieb Schindorf studiosus 
juris, der, seit 1726, die Collegia fleissig abgewartet, von einigen soldaten in der 
offentlichen strasse angegriffen, in einen zugemachten Wagen geworfen, und ztim 
Stadthor hinausgefiirhrt worden ware." The King wrote, as usual, upon the 
margin of the document, "Sollcn nicht raisonniren, ist mein Uuterthan." 

f Thiebault says this was the Abbe Bastiani. 


up in arms on account of the Prussian man-stealers. The King 
of England remonstrated, but in vain ; he then gave orders that 
these marauders should be arrested wherever seen : other princes 
acted on the impulse thus given; Prussian enrollers taken in 
Hesse and Bavaria were immediately hung. This was touching 
Frederic William on a tender point. " He thought in his con- 
science God had as good as made tall people for him, who knew 
so well how to prize them ;" * and he was furious because other 
rulers, who did not know how to make use of giants, nor yet 
how to maintain them so well, contested his divinely-ceded right 
to them.f He set, therefore, no bounds to his indignation 
against George I., whom he looked upon as the ringleader of 
this nefarious plot to deprive him of his rightful property. 
He told the Queen that he would hear no more of an alliance 
with England, and that he had made up his mind to bestow his 
eldest daughter upon the Margrave of Schwedt. In her trouble 
the Queen applied to Grumbkow, and he managed so to medi- 
ate by procuring the liberation of several Prussian recruiters, 
that matters were again put on a better footing, and the halting 
plan of the matrimonial alliance was once more set in motion. 
But there was no longer the same friendly feeling between the 
two monarchs. Frederic William had been wounded too deeply 
either entirely to forget or to forgive, and George I. still pro- 
crastinated in the affair of the marriages. 

A comic scene now took place between Grumbkow and 
Anhalt. The latter, annoyed at Grumbkow' s having acted as 

* Morgenstern. 

+ Some of his subjects sought to convince Frederic William of the wrong he 
was committing in kidnapping recruits, by means of his well-known religious 
feelings, and texts from the Law of Moses were quoted to him ; as, for instance, 
Ex. xxi. 16, "Whoso stealeth a man and selleth him . . . shall die the 
death." "But," says Vehse, "these were citations from the Old Testament," 
and Frederic William did not consider that part of the Bible necessary to salva- 
tion ; besides, other people cited passages also out of the Old Testament, as 1 Sam. 
viii. 11 and 16, to prove that it was a prerogative of sovereignty for the king to 
take the people's "sons and appoint them for himself for his chariots, and to be 
his horsemen, and to run before him," and "to take their goodliest young men, 
and put them to his work." 


pacificator in the manner just described, accused him of having 
received English pay. Grumbkow retaliated by demanding the 
5000 Thalers which Anhalt had promised his daughter as a 
marriage portion in the days of their friendship. The Prince 
denied; Grumbkow insisted; mutual recriminations led to a 
challenge. Now fighting was not Grumbkow's forte. He had 
lain in a ditch through the battle of Malplaquet ; " hurt his 
leg," so as to put himself hors de combat, at the beginning of 
the siege of Stralsund ; managed to slip, though not without 
leaving tatters of his reputation behind him, through one duel 
with the Count de Dohna, and another with Goerz, the ambas- 
sador of Holstein. But Anhalt was a fire-eater ; Grumbkow's 
teeth chattered at the thought of him. The fatal day arrived, 
and at the appointed hour, at the appointed place, stood the 
terrible "La Barbe,"* foaming with rage. Grumbkow dared 
not face his angry opponent ; he flung away his sword and 
threw himself at Anhalt's feet, imploring his forgiveness. 
Anhalt gave but one glance of disgust at the abject figure 
before him, turned his back, mounted his horse, and galloped 
off, leaving Grumbkow to vow eternal hatred and revenge. 

Whilst these private tracasseries were occupying the attention 
of the courtiers at Berlin, the proposed marriage between the 
Archduchess Maria Theresa and the Infant of Spain caused the 
speedy conclusion of an alliance between France, England, and 
Prussia.f The King of England had promised that the con- 
clusion of this treaty should hasten the performance of that 
for the marriages ; but no result followed. Once again Frederic 
William and Sophia Dorothea visited George I. at Hanover, and 
the latter was left with her father to bring the matter, if pos- 
sible, to a conclusion ; but when she applied to the English 
ministers to draw up the marriage contract, they replied that 
they had no power to do so ; and when she remonstrated with 
her father, he answered that the Duke of Gloucester was as 

* Name by which Anhalt is called in Seckendorf 's " Journal Secret." 
t Treaty of Hanover, 1725. 


yet too young to marry, and that things had better remain as 
they were. Finding all further advances impossible, the Queen 
returned, indignant and mortified, to Berlin. Frederic William 
was incensed against her, because, he said, she had amused him 
with false promises ; and with the originality which usually 
characterized his wrath, he caused the communication between 
their apartments to be walled up.* 

Meanwhile the Prince and Princess Royal were now of an age 
to interest themselves in the contest which was going on with 
regard to their respective destinies. The brother and sister 
had ever since their childhood been united by the most tender 
affection an affection which never slackened, although the 
course of events might somewhat chill the glow of its youthful 
fervour. The Margravine of Baireuth was always Frederic's 
favourite sister; he admired her talent and wit, and speaks 
of her as a " fine mouche qui en sait plus qu'on n'en croit." 
Her death, the intelligence of which reached him after the 
disastrous battle of Hochkirch, cost him the bitterest sorrow, 
whilst her affection for him led her to brave even the much- 
dreaded displeasure of her mother, by consenting to marry so 
much below the just pretensions of the Princess Royal of Prussia. 

We have seen that, to give a military bent to his son's tastes, 
was Frederic William's chief desire, in the course of education 
which he had prescribed for him. In furtherance of this view, 
he used himself frequently to take the Prince Royal with him 
to reviews and parades, or hunting excursions, starting as early 
as three or four o'clock in the morning, and not returning till 
ate at night. Yet this very earnestness to make Frederic a 
soldier and a sportsman seems to have defeated its own end : 
the delicate boy took a dislike to the rough sports of the field 
and the coarse life of the camp, with its enforced attendance on 
drill and parade.f His health, always feeble, was unequal to 

* The partition remained for six weeks. 

t Thiebault speaks of an officer who, during thirty years' service, had never 
been absent from parade. 


the exertions required of him. Seckendorf, speaking in 1725, 
says, " The King so fatigues him with early rising and rough 
exercises, that, whilst still in his childhood, he looks as old and 
stiff as if he had gone through many campaigns." He began, 
besides, to develope a taste for music and books, especially for 
poetry, and to manifest a refinement of mind and manners 
which irritated his blunt father very greatly. Certainly there 
could have been but little to interest a refined mind in the 
" Par-force-Jagde" of which such frequent mention is made 
among the royal amusements. Upon these hunting expeditions 
a regular battue of large game was made. Sometimes as many 
as from 3000 to 4000 wild swine, or 1500 deer,* would be 
killed in one day, as upon one occasion, in the year 1726, when 
1400 deer were driven into an inclosure made on purpose, and 
there slain. f The Prince was present on this occasion, and re- 
ceived a severe fall from an unmanageable horse, which probably 
did not increase his liking for the amusement. 

A ridiculous anecdote is related of one of Frederic William's 
gigantic favourites, the Count von Haack ; on one of these 
hunting parties, a fine boar came rushing directly upon him ; 
his hunting spear broke short off, only wounding the furious 
beast ; no time was to be lost : Haack, like a very colossus, 
stretched himself across the path, and the boar rushed be- 
tween his legs, carrying the Count off upon a most uncorn- 

* The sale of the flesh of these animals was managed in a very arbitrary man- 
ner by Frederic William. All that was not wanted for the consumption of the 
palace was ticketed with a certain price, and sent amongst the tradesmen of 
Berlin, who dared neither refuse to receive nor to pay for it. Occasionally, by 
way of joke, the carcases of the swine would be especially ticketed for those citi- 
zens, who happened to be of the Jewish persuasion. The Queen, out of her in- 
come, had to find not only the clothing for the family, as has been stated above 
(see Introductory Chapter), but also the powder and shot consumed in the chase, 
in acknowledgment for which she received the proceeds of the sale of all the 
pheasants and partridges not required for the royal table ; and if the King was 
too ill himself to shoot for her behoof, he sent one of the gentlemen who were 
reckoned the best shots to keep up the charter. Frederic William's own shoot- 
ing generally bagged about eighty head of game out of from 120 to 130 shots. 

f Forster, " Jugendjahre." 


fortable saddle, with his face to the tail of his madly-terrified 
steed ! * 

But to return to the failure of the King's wishes for the educa- 
tion of his son. With regard to religious matters also, which, 
we were about to say, ranked next to military ones in Frederic 
William's mind, too much enforced attention begot disgust in 
the wearied young minds which were compelled to attend to the 
reading of long treatises on scholastic theology, and to the 
writing of confessions of faith occupying " eighteen sheets of 
paper/' the system pursued with both Frederic and his elder 
sister.f The King's health had suffered by the excessive drink- 
ing to which he was always prone, and he once more fell into a 
state of religious hypochondriacisrn. Francke the Pietist, who 
has been before mentioned, gained at this time great ascendancy 
over his mind. " All pleasures, even hunting," says the Mar- 
gravine of Baireuth, " were now looked upon as deadly sins." 
The discourse at dinner consisted chiefly of quotations from 
Scripture. The King read a sermon afterwards, and a hymn 
was sung by his valet-de-chambre. Sometimes, do what they 
would, the youthful spirits of the Prince and Princess, who with 
their mother were in constant attendance upon the King in these 
seasons of depression, would break through all control, and find 
vent in a burst of laughter at something irresistibly comic in the 
manner of these performances ; but such outbreaks were soon 
drowned by the thunder of their father's wrath. 

But we now come to a more painful part of the history of 
the royal family. Disgusted at the above-mentioned effeminate 
tastes of his heir, the King lavished marks of affection, which 
were not frequent with him,J upon the Princess Royal, whilst 
he treated the crown Prince with coldness, neglect, and even 

* See " Karakterziige aus dem Leben, F. W. I." 

+ That of the Margravine of Baireuth is preserved. 

J Marks of affection were seldom showed by Frederic William to his children ; 
"rare kisses," or a stroke on the cheek, were sometimes bestowed on his favourite 
for the time being. The Princess Ulrica was high in his esteem, because she 
" never laughed, and was never discontented." Preuss, " Jugendjahre." 



unkindness. Sophia Dorothea could bear no rival in the King's 
affection either for herself or her favourite child ; this led her, 
on her part, to various injudicious acts of favouritism ; unfortu- 
nately, too, the roughness of their fathers manner always in- 
spired his children with some degree of fear, and they, especially 
the crown Prince, evinced more tractability to their mother's 
milder sway than to the mandates of their father. The Queen 
was foolish enough not to see that, by taking advantage of this, 
she was effectually widening the separation which was already 
beginning to divide the father and son, and entailing upon her- 
self and her children a suite of unhappy results which rendered 
them all, for a time, perfectly wretched. " Whatever/' says the 
Margravine of Baireuth, " my father ordered my brother to do, 
my mother commanded him to do the very reverse." The mo- 
ther was obeyed, and the father justly exasperated. Prince 
Frederic fell into a sort of disgrace ; his mother and sisters were 
ordered to hold no communication with him. Sophia Dorothea, 
nevertheless, corresponded with him by means of her eldest 
daughter. Upon one occasion, 1726, .the Princess relates that 
her mother had ordered her to write " plusieurs choses de con- 
trabanxle^' to the Prince. She was seated at this occupation, 
.when .the sound of the King's entrance obliged her, hastily to 
:thrusther papers behind an Indian cabinet, near which she was 
sitting, and put the inkstand in her pocket, where she held it 
for fear of its upsetting. The King by some chance began to 
-admire this cabinet, and to try the lock; to draw off his atten- 
\sion, the Q\jeen desired him to decide between the merits of her 
lap-dog an4 that of the Princess. The latter testified so naively 
to the qualities of her pet, that her father was diverted, and gave 
her such a hearty hug that the inkstand was overturned in her 
pocket, " soaking her to the skin " with its contents, which also 
ran down upon the floor, so that she dared not move for fear of 
revealing the catastrophe. 

But a new actor now appeared upon the stage; this was 
Count Seckendorf, who had commanded in the famous attack 


on the fortifications at Stralsund, and who afterwards, as Aus- 
trian ambassador at Berlin, gained the most extraordinary in- 
fluence, not only over the King, but over the whole Court.* 

Of SeckendorPs character Pollnitz gives an account but little 
flattering. " He affected/' says he, " the German honesty, with 
which he was perfectly unacquainted, and under the deceitful 
appearance of integrity carried out all the principles of Macchi- 
avelli. With the meanest self-interest he combined the roughest 
manners. Lies were so familiar to him^ that he had lost the 
habit of truth from his childhood. He had the soul of a usurer, 
now in the body of a warrior, now in that of a merchant. False 
oaths and the vilest debasement cost him nothing when he had 
an end to gain ; he was sparing of his own goods, but lavish of 
the gold of his master/' But Pollnitz found scandal as easy as 
Seckendorf found lies, and perhaps 'the latter's character may 
be relieved of at least part of the burden thus laid upon it. 
Although it must be confessed that in the services he rendered 
to his Court, he stooped even to the most underhand means, and 
intrigued with high and low. 

This singularly-qualified agent then, did Austria, alarmed at 
the above-mentioned alliance between Prussia, England, and 
France, despatch to Berlin. The mission was an informal 
one, its aim to detach Prussia, hitherto so faithful an ally of the 
Empire, from this formidable coalition. 

Seckendorf s first move showed that he knew the mainspring 
of Frederic William's character ; he appeared as a mere visitor 
at Berlin, taking care to have it reported that he had. come ex- 
pressly to see a review of the best troops in the world. He was 
pointed out, as having this wish, to the King, who entered into 
conversation with him : in the course of the interview, Secken- 
dorf contrived to display in glowing colours the Austrian attach- 

* Frederic Henry, nephew of Veit Ludwig, Count de Seckendorf, author of the 
" History of Luther anism." He was uncle of Baron Christian Louis de Secken- 
dorf, author of the "Journal Secret." He commanded the unsuccessful Aus- 
trian campaign against the Turks in 1737, and was disgraced and imprisoned on 
his return. 

M 2 


ment to the Prussian interests. His next step was to procure 
tall recruits for the blue regiment, and finally he promised the 
King of Prussia, that Austria would secure to him the succession 
of Juliers and Berg. Thus assailed in all his weak points, 
Frederic yielded his implicit confidence to the artful envoy, and 
proved to the Court of Vienna, the skill of its ambassador, by 
giving, in the compact of Wusterhausen, his assent to the Prag- 
matic Sanction, 1726. 

With the Queen, however, Seckendorf made no way. She 
had known him before at Hanover, and retained a disagreeable 
recollection of some transaction, in which he had failed to show 
her that deference, which her pride demanded as her due. Added 
to this, she discovered, that his object was to withdraw the King 
from the English alliance ; and when, at table, Seckendorf in- 
cautiously let drop some slighting expression with regard to 
the King of England, she resented it angrily, and, forgetting 
the usual urbanity which distinguished her manners, made use 
of some discourteous expression towards him. Seckendorf was 
not a man either to forget or forgive an insult, even from a 
Queen. He told her that he would cause any one who enter- 
tained such an opinion of him to repent the expression of it, and 
he kept his promise but too well. 

Other similar occurrences confirmed this incipient hostility, 
and during the whole of his residence at Berlin, which lasted till 
1735, Sophia Dorothea and he were at open war. After his 
recall the King said, " My wife and the whole world are against 
him ; the Prince of Anhalt and my Fritz hate him like the pest, 
but he is a brave fellow, and loves me." * 

Of Grumbkow, too, the efficacy of whose friendship she 
had more than once experienced, the Queen, by her ill-timed 
hauteur, once more made an enemy. Indignant that he had 
leagued himself with Seckendorf, she not only revoked the gift 
which she had made him of her portrait, but sent to have it 
wrenched from the panels where he had placed it in his house. 
* Forster's "Jugendjahre." 


In 1727 died King George I. The Queen's grief at the loss 
of her father was excessive ; and though his support had been 
but feeble and cold, still he had been more favourable to her 
views than her brother George II., who looked upon Frederic 
William with dislike. His Queen, also, Caroline of Anspach, 
although her opposition was not overt, was, nevertheless, no 
friend to the Prussian interests. Besides, the failure of Frederic 
William's expectations with regard to the wills of Sophia Doro- 
thea's father and mother had not left him more amicably dis- 
posed either towards herself or her family.* 

In the beginning of the year 1728 the King was induced, 
by the representations of his friends, who by no means fell in 
with the ascetic views of Francke, to pay a visit to Dresden, 
there to conclude with King Augustus the Strong of Poland 
the differences to which the enlistment of some of that Prince's 
taller subjects had given rise. The crown Prince accompanied 
the King upon this occasion. 

The royal guests were treated with the greatest distinction 
by the King of Poland, and a round of gaiety and pleasure 
honoured their visit. Frederic William writes to Seckendorf, 
" Ich bin in Dressen und springe und tanze, ich bin mehr 
fatiguiret als wenn ich alle Tage zwei Hirsche todt hetze." f 

* Sophia of ZeU died Nov. 13, 1726. Seckendorf, in a letter to Prince 
Eugene, dated Jan. 22, 1727, ascribes the increase of the Queen's influence, 
which took place just then (and during which the episode of the picture took 
place) to the expectations which the King founded on the inheritance of her mother, 
who died rich. But George I. burned the will of his wife, denying her capacity 
as testatrix. On his own death, which took place soon after, his son George II., 
in like manner destroyed his testament, on which the King of Prussia had founded 
hopes of obtaining a considerable legacy to Sophia Dorothea. Frederic William is 
said on this occasion to have written to his brother-in-law, that he "deserved 
the galleys." See Vehse, " Preussischen Hof." 

Lord Mahon says that the story of George I. destroying his wife's will "rests 
only on court gossip, and seems quite at variance with the honesty of purpose and 
love of justice which distinguished George the First." See Mahon's Hist. Engl., 
vol. ii. p. 111. 

f "I am here in Dresden, and spring and dance. I am more fatigued than if 
I hunted down two stags every day." 


This visit was a most important, and, in many respects, un- 
fortunate one, for the crown Prince. Dresden was then one of 
the most licentious Courts of a licentious age. Even Frederic 
William himself found his virtue beset by strong temptations. 
He writes again to Seckendorf, " 1st gewiss nit christlich leben 
hier. Aber Gott ist mein Zeuge dass ich kein plaisir daran 
gefunden, und noch so rein bin als ich vom Hause herge- 
kommen, und mit Gottes Hiilfe beharren werde bis an mein 
Elide." * 

But to the crown Prince, from whom all the avenues of vice 
had been hitherto so strictly guarded, these temptations were 
far more dangerous. He was here at once plunged into the very 
vortex of dissipation and profligacy. He is said to have fallen 
deeply in love with the beautiful Countess Orselska a passion 
which, on his return to the more monotonous life of Berlin and 
Potsdam, brought on a disposition to deep melancholy ; whilst 
the taste which he had conceived for the pleasures of the gay 
Saxon Court, led him into courses, whose vicious tendency be- 
coming known to the King, exasperated him still more against 
his son. 

At Dresden, also, Frederic became acquainted with Quanz, 
the celebrated flute-player, and took from him his first lessons 
on that instrument. When the King of Poland returned 
Frederick William's visit a short time afterwards, Quanz was 
amongst his suite, and was privately engaged by the Queen to 
continue his lessons to her son, as often as he could obtain 
leave of absence from Dresden. The study of music was a 
great solace to Frederic, and he devoted all the time which he 
could abstract from the duties of parade, &c., to its cultivation. 
His lessons were received by stealth, either when the King was 
engaged in hunting excursions, or was absent with his regi- 

* " It is certainly not Christian living here, but God is my witness that I have 
found no pleasure in it, and am still as pure as when I left home, and will, with 
God's help, remain until my end." 


ment ; sometimes he and his young companions would separate, 
one by one, from the hunting party, to meet at a given spot, 
and there, surrounded by thick woods, perform the different 
parts of some musical composition. On other occasions, 
escaping from the drudgery of the 'drill, he would fling aside 
the hated uniform and military queue, and investing himself in 
a rich dressing-gown and French hair-tie, receive his lesson in his 
own room. On one of these occasions an alarm of " the King ! 
the King!" was raised. Quanz concealed himself in the 
shadow of the wide chimney, whilst Frederic hastily thrust on 
his uniform ; but the music-books, the brocade dressing gown, 
and the Parisian hair-tie, did not escape the King's notice and 
loud reprehension ; and Quanz, in mortal fear of the discovery 
of his red coat through the gloom, was obliged to maintain his 
position for the hour, during which Frederic William exhausted 
himself in vituperations against his son's vile womanish tastes, 
and in all manner of threats should he persist in them. Yet, 
despite his father's utmost strictness, the young Prince 
managed to elude his watchfulness, both in this, and other 
respects ; and when at night he retired to his chamber, it was 
only to issue from it, arrayed in the newest French fashions, 
and bound for the wildest haunts of dissipation afforded by his 
father's capital. The King, having an inkling of his son's 
pursuits, thought it best in the ensuing year, 1729, to place 
him under the surveillance of fresh governors. Messrs. Rochow 
and Kaiserling were the names of the gentlemen whom he now 
placed about the crown Prince. E/ochow was an upright man, 
but a bore, affecting the mysterious, to conceal the superiority 
of his pupil's, to his own intellect. Kaiserling, on the contrary, 
though equally well principled, was gay, lively and versatile, 
speaking many different languages with equal facility, and 
knowing a little on all imaginable subjects, with great depth in 
none. He united with these qualifications a good-nature, 
which made him always ready to oblige any one. It is, difficult 
to conceive the reason of the King's choice of this brilliant 


personage to be his son's tutor ; nevertheless, so it was, and 
his society was a great resource to Frederic.* 

The Prince had also become intimate with two young men 
named Keith and Katt. The former was one of the King's 
pages, a youth of amiable disposition, who had gained Frederic's 
friendship by sympathizing with him on the harsh treatment of 
his father. Katt was the son of Colonel Hans Heinrich Katt. 
He was not naturally of a bad disposition, nevertheless he was 
by no means a desirable companion for Frederic. In person he 
was not pleasing, being of low stature, deeply marked with 
small-pox, with beetling black brows, which nearly met above 
his eyes. He was fond of parading his sceptical views on re- 
ligious subjects, views which, with him, as with many other 
shallow-brained young men of the present day, were not the 
result of thought, but of the want of it. These ideas he unfor- 
tunately soon succeeded in imparting to the crown Prince, as well 
as in drawing him into yet worse company and wilder debauch, 
than he had engaged in before, whilst he encouraged him in 
manifesting opposition to his father's wishes, and neglect of his 

In the domestic circle, meantime, things went on from bad 
to worse. The Queen, surrounded with vexations, was irritable 
and capricious; her daughter found it "impossible to please 
her ;" whilst the King's fits of passion appear at times to have 
amounted almost to insanity, so great was his exasperation 
against the " Querpfeifer f and poet Fritz/' whom he was re- 
commended to marry, lest his excesses should injure his health, 
and against the Princess Royal, the subject of whose marriage 
had cost him so much annoyance. Their mother no longer 

* Their friendship remained unbroken until Kaiserling's death in 1745. His 
loss was more severely felt by Frederic than that of any other of his most intimate 
friends, and he provided carefully, and with much feeling, for the education of the 
daughter whom his deceased friend had left, expressing his earnest wish that "la 
pauvre Adelaide" should be worthy of her father. The Marchioness of Baireuth 
speaks of Kaiserling as ' ' fort honnete homme, mais fort debauche, grand etourdi 
et bavard, qui faisait le bel esprit et n'etait qu'une bibliotheque renversee." 

f Fifer. 


dared receive these two unfortunate children openly. All sorts 
of stratagems were had recourse to, to elude the King's eye. 
On one occasion when the Prince and Princess were with the 
Queen, the spies se.t to watch were not sufficiently on the alert ; 
an alarm was given that the King was at hand. The Prince 
hastily concealed himself in a niche ; the Princess crept under 
her mother's bed, on which the King, being tired with hunting, 
threw himself, and fell asleep. His children meanwhile were 
obliged to maintain their constrained position until, after what 
appeared to them an interminable period, he awoke from his 
nap and departed. 

The Queen, too, had now another confidante, even worse 
selected than the two former ones. This was a Madame Ramen, 
of whom the Margravine de Baireuth says that she "was a 
widow, or rather, like the woman of Samaria, she had many 
husbands/' To this person, as usual, the Queen confided all 
her most important secrets, which were duly sent round by 
Madame de Ramen to the King, thus adding fuel to the fire of 
his vexation. Moreover, whilst on a visit to a grand review 
given by the King of Poland, Frederic William had met the 
Duke of Saxe Weissenfels, and, to that Prince's great surprise, 
although the match was in no way a desirable one for the 
Princess Royal, had offered him his eldest daughter in marriage. 
When, however, the Duke presented himself in the character 
of suitor to her daughter, the Queen turned her back upon 
him. This discourtesy occasioned a violent dispute between 
her and her husband. At one time an end seemed about to be 
put to all these disturbances by the Prince of Wales himself, 
who had determined on seeing, with his own eyes, the much 
talked of Princess of Prussia. Even before the visit of the 
King of Poland, the Queen had received false intelligence of an 
incognito visit projected by her nephew ; and for a long time 
amongst the strangers who arrived at Berlin, " il n'y avait ni ane 
ni mulct, 5 ' whom she did not take for him.* Disappointment 



had at length taken the place of expectation, when La Motte 
arrived from Hanover, and, having demanded a private audience 
of the Queen, informed her that he was commissioned by the 
Prince of Wales to ask whether an incognito visit from him 
would be agreeable to the King and Queen of Prussia ; and, on 
behalf of the Prince also, La Motte entreated her at the same 
time, to keep the matter a profound secret. Overjoyed at this 
announcement, the Queen forgot the injunction to secresy, and 
communicated the fact to Dubourguai, the English envoy, 
saying that she was sure he was sufficiently her friend to partici- 
pate in her joy. Great was her chagrin when M. Dubourguai 
expressed his sincere regret that she should have communicated 
to him a secret which his duty compelled him to. reveal to his 
master, the King of England, with as little delay as possible. 
She entreated his forbearance, that he would delay, would 
concede to her ever so short a respite ; but the minister was 
inflexible. George II. receiving intelligence of his son's in- 
tended step, saw himself obliged to recall him to England, 
whilst La Motte was arrested and imprisoned. The Queen was 
in the greatest embarrassment ; she had informed her husband 
of La Motte's mission, and he had come from his favourite 
retreat of Wusterhausen, to Berlin, expressly to receive the 
Prince of Wales. Fresh irritation and misunderstanding were 
the results of this contretemps, added to which the King, who 
had drunk hard and hunted hard, in all sorts of weather, was 
attacked by a violent fit of gout. He was more like a madman 
than anything else in his fits of frantic irritablity. There was 
no indignity which he did not put upon " that canaille Anglaise/' 
his daughter, and " that coquin de Fritz/' his son. Neverthe- 
less, he would neither allow them, nor the Queen to leave his 
room, in which they were ordered to appear punctually by nine 
o'clock in the morning. He had long extended his economy in 
matters of diet to the most wretched parsimony. Persons who 
had the honour of an invitation to the royal table, generally left 
it with an unsated appetite. He now carried this to a more 


extraordinary extent than ever, and the Margravine of Baireuth 
gives details which seem almost incredible, of his treatment of 
herself and her brother, in this, and other respects. Ill though 
he was, his impatience would not allow him to remain in his 
bed, and he caused himself to be wheeled about in a chair on 
rollers, whilst his family, " like mournful captives, followed this 
triumphant car." One day he dismissed them, exclaiming to 
the Queen, "Away with you and your cursed children, and 
leave me alone." The Queen and her children, rejoicing in the 
holiday thus secured, ordered dinner in her apartments ; but 
scarcely were they seated at table, when the Queen was recalled 
in haste by the intelligence that her husband was strangling 
himself. On another occasion, being irritated by a remark of 
the Princess Frederica (who was now betrothed to the Margrave 
of Anspach), he threw a plate at his son's head, another at the 
Princess Royal's, and finally drove the latter out of the room 
with his crutch. 

But we hasten over this and many other such disgusting 
scenes, as over the frenzied violence of a madman. 

The marriage of the Princess Frederica Louisa, which took 
place in 1729, appears to have made but little break in the 
course of either the King's or the Queen's ideas; and the outbreak 
of fresh disturbances between Hanover and Prussia, on account 
of Frederic William's kidnappers, gave occasion to another explo- 
sion of wrath, and even to an order for his troops to assemble for 
the purpose of revenge. Then followed fresh attempts at recon- 
ciliation and renewed negotiations on the part of the Queen ; 
overtures which were but coldly received by England. 

Eversmann,the Kammerdiener, too, whom Sophia Dorothea had 
endeavoured to win over to her side by bribery, because she knew 
he had the King's ear, betrayed her to Grumbkow, whose pay he 
also received and whom he better served, and thus the secret of 
this fresh attempt to carry out her English views, reached the 
cars of her husband. lie immediately sent Borck and Grumbkow 
to announce to her, that, weary of her intrigues, he had decided 


upon marrying his daughter, although certainly not to the 
Prince of Wales, and that from a remains of kindness for her, 
he would consent to give her the choice between Schwedt and 
Weissenfels. The Queen replied that he was the master of 
his own actions, and could certainly, if he chose, bestow his 
daughter upon any petty Prince, instead of upon the heir of 
three crowns ; but that for her part, she would never consent 
to sacrifice her child in such a manner, arid that all she could 
do in the case was, to write to her brother, and press for a 
decisive answer. She also wrote to the King, entreating him 
not to push matters further. The next day brought another 
formal deputation from Frederic William, to repeat the pro- 
posals of yesterday, and to add the threat, that, if the Queen 
would not consent, he would imprison her for life, whilst the 
Princess Royal should be treated with the utmost severity. 

The Queen told Borck upon this occasion that she wished to 
speak with him in private. She then asked his advice, as a 
friend, in this emergency. He suggested that a third party 
should be proposed, in order to gain time, and mentioned the 
Prince of Baireuth. The Queen begged him to communicate 
this idea to the King, as if it were a proposition from himself. 
Meanwhile, she held council with her eldest son and daughter, 
as to what must be done to avert the threatened evil. It was 
agreed, that a pressing letter to the Queen of England should 
be composed by Sophia Dorothea and the Princess Wilhelmina, 
which should be copied and subscribed by the crown Prince, 
and that the Queen should then feign illness, in order to gain 
time for the transmission of this letter and the receipt of the 

* This letter ran as follows : "Madame ma soaur et tante, Quoique j'ai deja 
eu 1'honneur d'ecrire a votre Majeste, et de vous expliquer la triste situation oft je 
me trouve, aussi que ma soeur, je ne saurais m'imaginer qu'une princesse dont les 
vertus et le merite forment 1' admiration universelle, put laisser souffrir une soeur 
qui lui est tendrement attachee, en refusant de souscrire au manage de ma soeur 
et du Prince de Galles, qui cependant a etc arrete si solennellement par le traite 
de Hanovre. J'ai deja donne ma parole d'honneur de n'epouser jamais que la 


The shortest period that could bring a reply from England 
was three weeks, and in the meanwhile reports did not fail to 
reach the King that the Queen's illness was only assumed ; the 
delay therefore did but irritate him, and when the letters from 
England arrived, they were most unsatisfactory. Frederic Wil- 
liam now came in person to Berlin, determined to enforce com- 
pliance with his will. After a stormy interview with the Queen, 
he went to the Marchioness of Schwedt, and demanded her 
consent to the marriage of her son with his daughter ; but the 
aged Marchioness, aware of the violent scenes which had of late 
taken place in the royal family, asked him whether her Majesty 
the Queen and the Princess Royal were consenting parties to the 
proposed contract ; he replied that they were not, but that he 
should soon " bring them to reason." The Marchioness, how- 
ever, refused to listen to a proposal which would force the 
Princess, against her will, into an alliance with her son. 

On the King's return, he accidentally fell in with the unfor- 
tunate Princess Royal, in her mother's apartments, and despite 
the folding screen, which had been purposely placed so as to 
cover her retreat, in case she should be thus surprised, a violent 
storm of blows and abuse saluted her, before she could effect 
her escape ; and Mademoiselle Sonsfeld was obliged to interpose 
her own person, to prevent worse treatment of this innocent 
cause of so much vexation to her father. 

He then told the Queen that the Marchioness of Schwedt 
had refused her daughter, and, that she might think herself 
fortunate, if the Duke of Weissenfels would take her. The 
Queen would have preferred even Schwedt to this Prince, the 
" gros Jean Adolphe," as she called him. She therefore replied 
that she would renounce the idea of an alliance with England, 

princesse Amalie, sa fille, je lui reitere encore cette promesse, en cas qu'elle veuille 
donner son consentement au manage de ma sceur. Nous sommes tous reduit dans 
1'etat du monde le plus facheux, et tout sera perdu si elle balance encore a nous 
donner une reponse favorable. Je me trouverai alors libre de toutes les promesses 
que je viens de lui faire, et oblige de suivre les volontes du roi mon pere, en prenant 
telle partie qu'il me proposera," &c. &c. Baireuth, "Mem." 


and consent to her daughter's marriage, provided that it was 
not to the Duke of Saxe Weissenfels. " Where, then, would she 
seek an alliance ? " demanded the King. " With the hereditary 
Prince of Baireuth," she replied, ' ' who will at least one day be 
a sovereign Prince, and who is related to our own house." A 
little mollified by her apparently desisting from the English 
match, the King in a milder tone gave his consent to this pro- 
posal, and retired. 

The manifold vexations and constant anxiety of mind suffered 
by the Queen, now resulted in a violent attack of illness, during 
which her life was despaired of. Frederic William was absent 
at the time 011 a visit to Dresden, and a courier was despatched 
to recall him. His mind had been, however, so poisoned against 
his wife, that at first he imagined her malady to be only a 
feint ; but on returning to Berlin, and finding that the phy- 
sicians entertained but little hope of her recovery, the King, 
whose emotions were as violent in sorrow as in anger, fell into 
a state of the bitterest remorse. On being admitted to her 
bedside, and observing her altered appearance, he gave way to 
a paroxysm of grief, imploring her pardon, entreating the phy- 
sicians to use their utmost efforts to restore her, and vowing 
that if she died, he could not and would not survive her. Upon 
his becoming in some degree calm, Sophia Dorothea begged 
him, as perhaps a last request, to be reconciled to her chil- 

Wholly softened by the influence of grief, he embraced his 
two elder children, with tears, in her presence. Nevertheless, 
the dangerous crisis being past, and the Queen's recovery an- 
nounced as certain, he soon resumed his former harsh treatment 
of the Prince and Princess, when not in their mother's pre- 

The crown Prince especially suffered from the effects of his 
severity ; on one occasion he even struck him repeatedly with 
his cane, and it was said, that, in an access of fury, he had 
attempted to strangle him. 


The young man, naturally enough, longed for freedom from 
the galling constraint and perpetual insults, to which he was 
obliged to submit. His sister relates, that, one night he came to 
her apartment, dressed as usual on his evening excursions, in 
the height of the French fashion, and told her gloomily, that he 
could no longer bear his father's injustice and tyranny, and 
that he had resolved to have recourse to flight. She remon- 
strated with him, urgently entreating him to lay aside a plan 
which would so fatally arouse the fury of the King. He said 
no more at the time, and appeared to be convinced by her argu- 
ments ; but he had by no means given up the idea. Irritated 
to the last degree by the injuries constantly cast upon him, he 
no longer attempted to conciliate his father, but spoke of his 
favourite pursuits with open derision, stigmatizing the rough 
field sports in which he delighted, as oppressive to the peasantry, 
and, as a pastime, little better than chimney-sweeping ; whilst 
he blamed his harshness to the common soldiery in matters of 

Katt, meantime, was injudicious in the extreme ; he was loud 
in the praise of the Prince, whilst he publicly blamed the con- 
duct of the King towards him ; he also most indiscreetly showed 
a miniature of the Princess, which her brother had lent him to 
copy. Whilst things were in this state, an entirely new direc- 
tion seemed, for the moment, to be given to the course of 
affairs, by the arrival of the English ambassador Hotham, who 
was empowered to conclude the agreement for the marriage of 
the Princess Royal with the Prince of Wales, provided, that the 
King of Prussia, on his side, was ready to agree to that of the 
crown Prince with the Princess Amelia. To the first part of 
this proposition Frederic William acceeded joyfully, to the 
latter he gave no answer ; but at table that day he announced 
to the Queen, that the marriage of the Princess Royal with the 
Prince of Wales was now settled, and drank to the health of 
the young couple. Hotham preserved a constrained silence on 
this occasion, but on the King's leaving the table, he again 


demanded an audience. His Majesty was evidently annoyed, 
and replied that he was on his road to Potsdam, and could not 
wait. On his return from thence, a few days afterwards, he 
told the Queen that he had resolved to marry his son to the 
Princess of Brunswick Bevern. Hotham, on being again ad- 
mitted to an audience, pressed the subject of the marriage of 
the crown Prince, and added that he was further commissioned 
to state, that the hostility of Grumbkow to the English inte- 
rests was so well known, that the King of England considered 
him to be a personal enemy ; that he, Hotham, only awaited the 
receipt of one or two papers, which he expected to be forwarded 
to him very shortly, to be in a position, not only to demonstrate 
the truth of this statement, but also to prove, by means of 
letters from Grumbkow to Richenbach, the Prussian resident in 
England, that the former was also acting a treacherous part 
towards his Prussian Majesty; that the King of England 
demanded his dismissal as a mark of personal friendship to 
himself; and that this stipulation being conceded, and the mar- 
riage of the Prince Royal with the Princess Amelia being also 
decided upon, there would be no further delay placed in the 
way of the marriage of the Prince of Wales with the Princess 

The King appeared much struck with the accusation of 
Grumbkow, and demanded the proofs. He also said that his 
son was as yet too young to marry. Hotham, however, was 
firm in maintaining, that the completion of the one match could 
not take place without that of the other. " Be it so, then," 
said the King ; te I consent, on condition that my son be 
appointed Stattholder of Hanover, and reside there till my 

Hotham replied that he would despatch a courier to ascertain 
his master's will on this head, and also to hasten the despatch 
of the necessary links in the chain of evidence which he had to 
produce against Grumbkow. 

Of course, intelligence of the storm that was brewing against 


him did not fail to reach Grumbkow, through some of the 
channels which he constantly kept open, and he turned all his 
energies to employ the respite before proof could arrive, in 
averting the impending danger. Seckendorf served him most 
effectually in the matter, by insinuating to the King, that the 
accusations against him were the result of the Queen's in- 
trigues with England, and that the English policy was, to 
place the crown Prince upon the throne, and thus, by means of 
his marriage with an English Princess, to govern Prussia. Nor 
were suggestions, calculated to touch the King's ruling passion, 
wanting, in the shape of inuendoes upon " the vain and haughty 
English daughter-in-law," to supply whose extravagance, the 
proceeds of the Treasury itself, would prove inadequate. 

The delight of the Queen, meantime, was extreme at this 
apparently close approximation to the attainment of her dearest 
wishes, and no suspicion of the secondary causes which were 
thus undermining her now exultant prospects crossed her mind. 
Hotham had been charged with letters from the Prince of 
Wales couched in the most lover-like terms. She seemed on 
the point of a complete triumph over her old enemies, Grumb- 
kow and Seckendorf, whom, in her premature self-gratulation, 
she treated with the most cutting contempt. The recent birth 
of her youngest child, the Prince Augustus Ferdinand, too, 
had attracted much of her husband's former tenderness towards 
her, and all " went merry as a marriage bell " to her buoyant 

In due time Hotham received the necessary papers from 
England, and waited upon the King, fully prepared to confirm 
his former statements, and to announce the willingness of 
George II. to accede to the proposal with regard to the Statt- 
naltership of Hanover. 

But the wind now set from another quarter. Frederic 
William, instead of reading the proofs of Grumbkow's delin- 
quency, flung them down angrily, and said that he would receive 
laws from nobody as to the selection of his servants; and, en- 



tirely forgetting his royal dignity, in one of those explosions of 
ungoverned anger to which his own dependents were constantly 
subjected, he, it is said, even raised his foot, as if to kick the am- 
bassador of England, and then rushed furiously from the room. 

Justly indignant at this gross insult, Hotham made instant 
preparations for quitting the country. 

On hearing of this catastrophe, the ambassadors of Holland 
and Denmark instantly besought an audience of the King, and 
succeeded, by their representations, in making him regret the 
violence to which he had given way, and in inducing him even 
to go the length of saying that he would consent to what was 
required of him. But Hotham was not to be appeased, and 
proceeded in his hasty arrangements for departure. 

The Queen, thus cast down from her pinnacle of exultation 
to a worse position than ever, caused the crown Prince to 
write to Hotham, and entreat him to reflect that his own happi- 
ness and that of his sister, as well as the harmony of the two 
houses of England and Prussia, now depended upon him, and 
to beg him to yield to the King's wish for a reconciliation. 
Hotham, however, replied, that the majesty of England had 
been insulted in his person, and that he saw himself compelled, 
although with the deepest regret, to break off the negotiations 
and leave the Court. Before doing so he transmitted the inter- 
cepted letters, which formed the proof of Grumbkow's treachery, 
to the Queen. 

After this occurrence, Prince Frederic, harassed by fresh in- 
stances of harshness from his father, began now more seriously 
to revolve the project of flight; and it was not very long 
before he put it in execution. 

The beginning of the year 1730 had been occupied by the 
betrothal of the third Princess, Philippina Charlotte, to the 
Prince of Brunswick Bevern, and the festivities consequent 
upon such an event. On the 15th of July of the same year 
Frederic William, accompanied by the crown Prince, set off on 
a tour through his dominions, purposing to make various visits 


to neighbouring Princes by the way. The first of these visits 
was paid to his daughter, the Margravine of Anspach. It was 
from hence that Prince Frederic had intended to effect his 
escape; but his brother-in-law, fearful of incurring the King's 
resentment himself, declined to furnish the necessary horses. 
During their stay at Anspach, Frederic William further em- 
bittered his son's mind, by openly taunting him with pol- 
troonery that he had not run away, saying that, in his own 
case, had his father treated him with a tithe of the same severity 
he should have done so a " thousand times/' 

It is useless to prolong the painful story. Suffice it, that 
after some further journeying to Augsburg and various other 
places, the Prince decided on attempting his escape from a 
village called Neufurth, or Steinfurth, near Sinzheim, where 
the King had put up for the night, and where he had preferred 
the clean straw of some barns to the narrow accommodations of 
the villagers' houses. 

Rochow and Kummersbach had been appointed to sleep in 
the same part of one of these buildings as that occupied by the 
Prince. On Kummersbach's awaking he missed the Prince, 
and at once roused Rochow, and they went together in search 
of him. They found him. in the market-place leaning against 
a carriage, waiting for the horses which he had sent Keith's 
brother (one of the pages) to procure. They insisted upon his 
returning with them; the Prince remonstrated angrily; but it 
was useless to resist, and he submitted with sullen resignation. 
In the meantime a letter which he had written to Katt, direct- 
ing him whither to bend his flight, had been by mistake 
forwarded to another officer of the same name, who deemed it 
his duty to despatch it to the King. This unfortunate letter 
reached the King at Frankfort, whither the journey had now 
been continued. He ordered the Prince into the yacht which 
was to convey them to Wesel, and nursed his wrath in silence. 
The next day, on going on board the yacht, his fury got the 
better of him at the sight of his offending son ; he seized him 

N 2 


by the throat, and struck him so violent a blow with the handle 
of his stick, that the Prince's face was covered with blood, and 
he is said to have exclaimed, " Never before did the face of a 
Brandenburg submit to such disgrace." 

From Frankfort, they continued this wretched journey to 
Bonn, where the King was to stop to visit the Elector of 
Cologne. Fearing another attempt at escape, he sent the 
Prince on to Wesel : here the unfortunate young man again 
made an effort to obtain his freedom, by means of a rope-ladder 
which had been furnished to him, but the attempt was rendered 
abortive by the vigilance of the sentinel. 

Once again at Wesel, Prince Frederic was brought before his 
irritated father, who called him an "infamous deserter;" and 
asked him how he dared to think of escape. " Because," re- 
plied the Prince, " you have treated me like a slave. I have 
only done that which you yourself have said, that in my place 
you would have done a thousand times." 

This speech so exasperated the King, that he seized his 
sword and would have slain his son had not General Mosel * 
caught his arm and withheld him. During the remainder 
of the homeward journey, the Prince submitted to his fate 
with calmness, f 

In the intervening time, at Berlin, the usual spiritual warn- 
ing of impending misfortune to the house of Brandenburg, is 
said to have announced the approach of evil tidings to the 
Queen, whilst she was at her toilette, on the eve of the day on 
which the King made the above-mentioned frantic attempt on 
the life of his son. This ghostly admonition consisted of loud 
and terrible noises in the rich porcelain cabinet adjoining the 
Queen's bed-room. The cabinet was vainly investigated to 
discover the cause of the disturbance, which was now loudly 
repeated, with the addition of groans and cries of pain, in the 

* The Commandant of Wesel. 

\* For details of this journey see Forster's " Jugendjahre Friedrich des Grossen," 
and Preuss's "Jugendjahre," first vol. of the "Lebens Gteschichte." 


gallery communicating with the King's apartments. The ladies 
in attendance, being by far too terrified to do anything but 
cling together, in helpless alarm, the Queen herself took a light 
in order to ascertain the cause of these extraordinary sounds ; 
but she found the gallery perfectly empty, whilst the fastened 
doors at the further end were guarded by a soldier, now pale 
and trembling with affright. 

On the 15th of August, the same courier that brought the 
order for the arrest of Katt (who with the most extraordinary 
foolhardiness was waiting for a saddle with conveniences for 
concealing money and jewels) brought also a note from the 
King to Madame de Kamecke, begging her to inform the Queen 
of the attempted desertion, and the arrest of "Fritz."* 

On receiving this terrible news, the unhappy mother, whom 
it reached during an evening assembly, dismissed the company 
with a face as pale as death, and retired with the Princess 
Royal to give vent to her grief and terror, and to form the most 
direful conjectures as to the probable issue of the event. 

The Prince's portefeuille, containing an immense number of 
letters from his mother and sister, was forwarded to the Queen 
by a friendly hand after Katt's arrest ; the difficulty as to the 
breaking of his arms, with which it had been sealed, being over- 
come by a similar seal having been accidentally found by a 
trusty domestic, the two ladies employed the few days which 
intervened before the King's return, in burning these letters and 
hastily fabricating fresh ones on indifferent matters to supply 
their place, but, says the Margravine, "as there were near 
fifteen hundred of the originals, although we worked very 
hard, not more than six hundred or seven hundred could be 
completed in the time " so that the portefeuille still looked 
comparatively empty, and the Queen hastily filled it up with 

* The Margravine of Baireuth and Baron Pollnitz give different versions of this 
intimation. The former says it was sent direct to the Queen, harshly announcing 
the arrest of the ' ' coquin Fritz. " The latter, that it was addressed to Madame 
de Kamecke, begging her to break the intelligence gently to the Queen. 


trinkets, and "toute sorte de nippes." This was, eventually, 
the cause of the discovery of the artifice, as when the porte- 
feuille was opened in the presence of the Prince, he did not 
recognise these interpolated articles, and Grumbkow, suspecting 
the trick which had been played, exclaimed, with an inso- 
lence that no other subject would have dared to be guilty of, 
" These cursed women have outwitted us ! " * 

On the King's return, he entered the Queen's apartment with 
the stern announcement, " Your son is dead." " What ! " 
shrieked the unhappy Queen, " have you murdered your son ? " 
" He was not my son/' retorted the King, " he was only a 
miserable deserter." On leaving the Queen he encountered his 
eldest daughter, and the whole violence of his insane fury was 
turned upon the poor Princess, whom he beat, and would per- 
haps have murdered in the blind frenzy of the moment, had 
she not been rescued, half insensible, by the interference of her 
brothers and sisters and the ladies present. The mother, half 
distracted, rushed wildly about the room, shrieking and wring- 
ing her hands, exclaiming "Mon Dieu, mon fils! mon Dieu, mon 
fils ! " The sight of the unfortunate Katt, who was led across 
the court, now drew off the King's attention to a fresh victim, 
and he left the fainting Princess and her distracted mother, to 
be consoled by their attendants, with the assurance that the 
Prince was at least still alive. 

There was another scene of brutal violence with poor Katt, 
who in his adversity showed that his character possessed a fund 
of manly fortitude, high feeling and resignation, which had not 
been called forth by his gay, thoughtless life at the French 
Ambassador's/j- and about the Court. He was shortly after- 
wards tried by court-martial, and condemned to be beheaded ; 
this sentence was executed, despite the touching appeal made 
by his father to Frederic William. 

All the other parties who could be supposed to have had any 
complicity in the Prince's design were treated with different mea- 

* See Preuss, and Forster. f Rothenburg, whose house he frequented. 


sures of severity. Duhan was banished to Wesel, and Rochow 
and Kaiserling degraded ill military standing. - The harshest 
instance of severity, and at the same time of injustice, in these 
awards, was the punishment of an unfortunate girl, named 
Doris Ritter, the daughter of a respectable citizen, against 
whom no heavier crime could be alleged, than, that she having 
a taste for music, the Prince used sometimes to accompany her 
on his flute. She was condemned to be publicly whipped 
through the streets of Berlin.* 

In the meantime the crown Prince was closely guarded at 
Mittenwalde, about eight miles from Berlin. Hence, after sub- 
mitting to an interrogation from Messrs. Grumbkow and 
Derschau, he was conveyed to the fortress of Kustrinj here 
he was strictly guarded, and denied at first both bed and 
candle; his expenses were limited to four Groschenf a day, 
and his jailors were forbidden to speak to him. The inhuman 
barbarity which caused his unfortunate friend, Katt, to be 
executed on a scaffold, raised to the level of the purposely-en- 
larged windows of his room, whilst he was obliged to look on, 
until a fainting fit mercifully relieved him from the frightful 
spectacle, is a fact of too well known, and too painful a nature, 
for it to be necessary to detail it here. After some time the 
severity of his imprisonment was slightly relaxed, and although 
books, and all other means of employment and recreation, 
save the visits of the clergyman Miiller, were still forbidden, 
yet friends were found, who supplied the captive with books 
and writing materials ; who, when the stipulated tallow-candle 
was extinguished at eight o'clock, returned with two lighted 

* This unhappy victim of Frederic William's tyrannical violence, afterwards led 
an obscure life as the wife of a person who let hack-carriages, who was afterwards 
promoted in Frederic the Great's reign to be public commissioner of fiacres (then 
a new office in Berlin). She lived in the same house with Formey, the French 
preacher, author of the "Memoires d'un Citoyen ;" but both he and Thiebault 
express their uncertainty, as to whether she even had a pension allowed her by 
Frederic, as a token of his sense of the disgrace and misery which she had under- 
gone on his account. 

t About 4|d 


wax ones, and even supplied the knives and forks, and other 
table utensils, which were strictly forbidden by the King, lest 
the unhappy young man should turn them against his own 

The sacrifice of poor Katt was not enough to appease the 
savage anger of the King ; had it not been for the intrepidity 
of two of the Generals* who composed the court-martial, to 
which was deputed the trial of the crown Prince (October 25), 
and for the remonstrances of the allied foreign Courts,t to all of 
which Frederic William had sent information of his son's arrest, 
the greatest King to whom Prussia has given birth, would 
have ended his life prematurely, like a common military deserter, 
a victim to the frenzied passion of his own father; and to repeat 
a somewhat hacknied remark, the history of Prussia would 
have thus afforded an unhappy analogy to those of Russia, 
Spain, Este and India; whilst the memory of the King of a 
civilized European country, in the eighteenth century, must 
have ranked with those of Brutus and Manlius, who, in the 
barbarous times of heathen antiquity, made a stern virtue of 
pouring a libation of their children's blood to the Moloch of 
military discipline. 

Grumbkow now undertook the task of mediator; possibly 
the adroit courtier saw here a chance of making himself indis- 
pensable to both parties ; possibly the wretched results of the 
intrigues, in which he had himself taken so large a share, 
aroused a better feeling in the heart of the man. At all events, 
he besought the King's permission to visit the prisoner, upon 
whom the eyes of the nation were now turned with loving 
sympathy. The King, who had now had time for reflection, and 
who, as we have so often had occasion to remark, was rather 
carried away by his uncontrollable fury, than naturally cruel, 
not unwillingly accorded him this permisson. Grumbkow's 
next step was, (unknown to the King) to wait upon the 
Queen,! who he was well aware, had but too great reason to look 

* Forster. f Pollnitz. J Ibid. 


upon him with dislike, and whose favour he wished to regain. 
Her surprise was great at this visit of her ancient enemy, and 
in the delight with which she listened to the subject of his 
mission, she forgot all her suspicions and ill-will, and told him, 
that she freely forgave the past, in consideration of the present. 
Charged, thus, with tender messages from the mother, and the 
bearer of a gleam of hope for pardon from the irritated father, 
Grumbkow set off for Ku'strin, where he hoped to be a 
welcome visitor to the imprisoned Prince. 

With all sorts of expressions of sympathy and offers of 
service, he advised him to write a submissive letter to the King. 
Adversity, amongst many other bitter lessons, had taught 
Frederic the policy of, at least, seeming to believe in proffered 
friendship. He acted, therefore, upon Grumbkow's advice, and 
addressed a letter, couched in very humble terms, to the King ; 
and henceforth we find Grumbkow the medium, through whom 
was brought about the gradual reconciliation between father 
and son. 

The King, upon the receipt of this letter, despatched a de- 
putation to the crown Prince, to notify to him, that he was at 
liberty to leave the fortress, though not the town of Ku'strin, 
on condition of an oath, to be first administered to him, of 
strict obedience to his father's will in all things. The deputa- 
tion was further charged to state, that, for the useful employ- 
ment of his time by attention to civil affairs, he was to take 
his place as junior counsellor in the Domanen-Kammer of the 
town. Frederic took the required oath, and expressed his 
willingness to enter upon the employment assigned him, but 
begged to be allowed once more to wear his sword. This 
perhaps, went as far as anything else to restore him to his 
father's good opinion. " Does Fritz wish to be a soldier ? " 
said he; "that is well at least. " 

Henceforward, the life of the crown Prince at Ku'strin, was 
lightened of its chief hardships, and had even its own peculiar 
pleasures ; for though strictly forbidden either to read, or write 


anything, but what related to the business of the Domain- 
Chamber, or to speak French, still he had the companionship 
of his flute, whilst the castle of Tamsel, at a short distance 
from Kiistrin, where resided the family of Von Wrech, afforded 
him, in the society of its younger members, a pleasant resource 
against the ennui attendant upon too great solitude. Money, 
too, was here forthcoming, although the family of Von Wrech 
was numerous and not over rich ; and it is said, that one of 
the few female attachments which Frederic ever formed, 
attracted him principally to this place. 

Meantime, the Princess Royal fared but little better than her 
brother. She was confined to her own apartment, denied the 
consolation of seeing her mother, and fed upon " ragouts de 
vieux os, remplis de cheveux et de saloperies," and that so 
sparingly, that the inhabitants of the French colony at Berlin, 
upon her position becoming known, used to send her provisions 

The propositions also with regard to Schwedt and Weissen- 
fels, were now, from time to time, renewed; letters on this 
subject were conveyed between the Queen and the Princess in 
various ways ; at one time in a cheese, at another by a trust- 
worthy messenger. The Queen still urged her daughter not to 
consent to anything, and even to make a vow " by her eternal 
salvation," to marry no one but the Prince of Wales. 

We will not stay to tell- of the scenes, in which the King 
threatened to strike his wife, to cause Mademoiselle Sonsfeld to 
be publicly whipped, &c., &c. ; but we pass on to the deputation, 
which, once more, formally offered the Princess her choice 
between the Margrave of Schwedt, the Duke of Weissenfels, 
and the Prince of Baireuth. Wearied out with the hateful 
contest, in which the subject of her marriage had so long in- 
volved her, she determined, despite the Queen's adjurations to 
firmness, to accept the Prince of Baireuth, whom she had not 
seen, in preference to the two others with whom she was 
acquainted ; but she made it the express condition of her con- 


sent, that her father, on his side, should agree to the liberation 
of her brother. On the receipt of the letter in which the 
Princess informed her mother of the step she had taken, the 
Queen wrote back a hasty and intemperate reply, threatening 
the Princess, that " she would never forgive her," that " she 
considered her a most cruel enemy," that " she disowned 
her," &c., &c. On the interview which ensued between the 
mother and daughter, the latter' s long-taxed feelings overcame 
her, and she fainted. But Sophia Dorothea, with a hardness 
which those who had offended her, frequently experienced, was 
little touched by her daughter's situation, and bitterly up- 
braided her, on her recovery, with the cowardice which had led 
her to accede to her father's wishes. Kamen, however, came to 
the aid of the Princess, by representing to the Queen, that the 
King would be very angry, did he hear of her conduct ; and 
then, as she greatly dreaded her husband's violence, she con- 
sented to moderate her tone. But, from this time, the Princess 
Royal experienced a great degree of coldness, and at times, 
even of unkindness, in her mother's demeanour towards her. 
The King, on the contrary, overwhelmed his daughter with 
caresses, for this proof of her obedience, and the preparations 
for the wedding were hurried on. Even yet, strange to say, the 
Queen's favourite project of the English marriage, seemed to her 
not utterly hopeless ; and when she was misinformed, that the 
whole affair was but a feint, on the part of the King, she 
readily believed it. Great, therefore, was her consternation, when 
the Prince of Baireuth actually arrived, and most ungracious 
the reception she accorded him. The King was incensed at her 
thus tacitly continuing her opposition. et Le diable, m'emporte ! 
Je saurai mettre fin a vos tracasseries," said he. The Princess, 
on the other hand, seems to have been better satisfied with the 
appearance and manners of her future bridegroom. She dared 
not, however, accord him even a glance, in the presence of the 
Queen, who had strictly forbidden her to speak to her betrothed, 
and had ordered her to slight him as much as possible. This, 


however, she would not do, and, no doubt, she managed to make 
it sufficiently apparent to him, that she was not of the same 
opinion as her mother, with regard to him. The Prince, seeing 
that the Queen was thus averse to receive him as a son-in-law, 
demanded an audience of her, and, in a modest and manly way, 
assured her, that, however highly honoured he might feel him- 
self to be, by the King's selection of him for a son-in-law (and 
that he had been also told it was with her sanction), yet, that 
lie would never so far presume upon the claim thus given him, 
as to persist in his suit, contrary to the wishes of herself and 
the Princess. The Queen, who was by no means wanting in 
appreciation of honourable feeling, was struck by the frank 
manner in which this appeal was made ; she even allowed that 
he was " spiritual." 

On the evening of the betrothal, the King embraced his 
daughter with tears, which continued to flow all the evening ; 
whilst the Queen was cold and constrained ; each giving way, 
as usual, to the feeling of the moment. 

And what, on the morrow, were the sensations of all parties 
when Grumbkow presented the despatches from England (which 
he feigned to have but just received, although, in reality, 
he had withheld them till after the betrothal),* announcing 
that George II. was willing to consent to the marriage of the 
Prince of Wales with the Princess Royal of Prussia, without 
insisting, at that time, on the double marriage ! 

The Queen, in her excitement and delight, saw no obstacle to 
the fulfilment of her wishes. The King, on the contrary, 
although, in fact, he had the English marriage almost as much 
at heart as the Queen, conceived himself bound, in honour, to 
complete the engagement with the Prince of Baireuth ; and the 
commands of honour were, to Frederic William, sacred obliga- 
tions ; whilst the Princess, whose character was fast developing, 
under the trials to which she had been subjected, was equally 
determined not to secede from her engagement to a man to 

* Pollnitz. 


whom she was not indifferent, and beside whom she looked for, 
at least, a haven of refuge from the storms, which the subject of 
her marriage had roused to rage around her. When the Queen, 
however, discovered her husband's intentions, she spared no 
effort to disgust the Prince of Baireuth. She once more forbade 
her daughter to speak to him ; she left the room in displeasure 
when he ventured on some little, almost accidental, piece of 
gallantry with his betrothed. She endeavoured to turn him 
into ridicule ; but here she was foiled at her own weapons. 
She asked him, in derision, did he understand music, painting, 
history, geography, &c. "Yes," answered he, in order to put 
a stop to this catalogue of the accomplishments required to fit 
him for her daughter, " yes ; and I know the creed and the cate- 
chism, too \" She made all sorts of delays in the preparation 
of the trousseau ; she was absolutely ill with vexation ; but 
still the inevitable day approached. 

The King, meantime, showed his sense of the sacrifice he had 
made, in keeping his engagement, in a way but little more satis- 
factory to the poor Prince of Baireuth, who was dubbed " milk- 
sop " and " dandy," because he did not drink enough, nor smoke 
enough, nor hunt enough, to satisfy his august father-in-law's 
ideas of manliness and thorough-breeding ; and if he did not 
improve in the first respect, it was from no fault of the King's 
that he was not intoxicated every night of his stay at Berlin. 
The time which yet intervened before the marriage, was spent 
at Wusterhausen, one of the King's favourite summer resi- 
dences, which, for the benefit of my readers, I will describe. 
Frederic William had raised, at some cost of labour, a barren 
hill of sand, which hid the mansion from view until the summit 
was gained. The building was not spacious, and was surrounded 
by a moat of stagnant water, generally anything rather than 
either fragrant, or wholesome. The only entrance to the court- 
yard of this " enchanted palace" * was through a wing at each 
end, the gates of which were respectively guarded by two white 

* Baireuth. 


eagles, two black ones, and two bears, savage brutes, which 
tried to fly at every one who approached, and which were the 
terror of the Court. In this congenial abode, the King passed 
his time much to his liking, in hunting and other such amuse- 
ments. The dinner of the royal family was taken, in all wea- 
thers, under a tent, pitched beneath a great lime tree in the 
garden, where the guests sometimes sat above their ankles in 
water, and where, moreover, the fare was so sparingly provided, 
that those who could get anything to eat, were obliged to con- 
tent themselves with a very frugal meal, while those who could 
not, had to fast. After this sumptuous repast, the King took 
his seat in an arm-chair, on the terrace; and there, with his 
children seated, or crouching on the ground around him, in the 
full blaze of the sun, it was his pleasure to take a siesta. 

The Princesses, when relieved from the duty of guarding 
their father's slumbers, were under orders to attend the Queen 
at her favourite game of Toccadille, at which we are assured she 
sometimes played from morning till night.* 

Under these somewhat peculiar domestic arrangements, it is 
perhaps not surprising, that the Princess Royal, who, meantime, 
was reproached by the Queen and taunted by her sisters, should 
have rather wished to experiment upon an establishment of her 
own, even though it were but a small one. The family from 
which the Prince of Baireuth was descended, was a younger 
branch of that house, whose progenitor had sold his right of 
inheritance to Frederic I. ; but, upon the estate lapsing to the 
Prince's father, in default of a male heir to the elder branch, 
Frederic William, finding that the money had not been paid, and 
that there were legal objections to the transfer of the Baireuth 
property, with that sense of justice which always distinguished 
his actions on such occasions, ceded his claims without contest. 

The day of the marriage, Nov. 20, 1731, at last arrived. The 
important affair of the bride's toilette occupied the hands of all 
the Court ladies, and the Queen herself undertook to dress her 
* See /'Mem." Baireuth. 


hair ; but being no adept in the art of arranging the formidable 
fortifications of curls, powder and pomatum, which were then 
worn upon the head, she was obliged to give it up to the ladies 
of the bed-chamber. Then she was not satisfied with the effect ; 
as fast as one side was done, she disarranged it. In fact, she 
was hoping against hope, that an English courier might yet 
arrive, in time to stop the fatal ceremony, which she was thus 
striving to defer to the utmost limit of time. But it was all in 
vain. The wedding took place. The King succeeded very 
tolerably in his effort to intoxicate the bridegroom, and per- 
formed the further paternal duty, of making the bride, when 
undressed, kneel down on the floor to repeat the creed and the 
Lord's Prayer aloud. Still there had been no sign of Frederic 
William's readiness to fulfil the promise which his daughter had 
required of him as the condition of her obedience no mention 
was made of the return of the crown Prince from his banish- 
ment ; when on the night of the 23rd, at a grand state ball, in 
which seven hundred couples danced, a young man, simply 
dressed in gray, was observed to stand for a length of time be- 
hind the Queen's chair, as she was engaged at cards. She did 
not observe the stranger, until he stooped and kissed her hand, 
and then to her delight she recognised her son. The meeting 
was a very touching one, although the recollection of the sacri- 
fice at which his liberation had been procured, considerably 
damped the Queen's pleasure. 

The Margravine of Baireuth, as we must now call the Princess 
Wilhelmina, remarks, that her brother had grown colder and 
more constrained in manner ; that he was stouter, and not so 
handsome : certainly the trials which he had endured, were not 
of a kind to open his heart, or add to the liveliness of his dis- 
position ; nor was the life of Kiistrin calculated to develope his 
muscular powers, or improve his personal appearance. He 
again returned to Kiistrin for a short period, after his sister's 
marriage, until his appointment to a regiment which was posted 
at Riippin, rendered his presence there necessary. At Ruppin 



he sedulously devoted himself to those military duties, which, he 
knew, could alone entirely procure him his father's approbation; 
he endeavoured also to procure tall recruits, and though he 
thus incurred debt and difficulty, yet he succeeded in his 
object ; and if he still studied and played the flute, he was wise 
enough to do it in private. From this time until his father's 
death, no serious quarrels took place between them. After the 
crown Prince's marriage, in 1 733, especially, his father frequently 
testified his affection and regard for his heir. 

The Margravine of Baireuth, who had done so much to secure 
him this tranquillity, and whose joyful caresses, for some unac- 
countable reason, he had received so coldly on the night of his 
return to Berlin, could not fail to be wounded by his apparent 
want of cordiality, and a coolness, trifling indeed, but yet appa- 
rent, seems to have subsisted between the brother and sister for 
some time; but this estrangement afterwards wore away, and 
they were once more on affectionate and intimate terms.* 

Though this Princess and her husband remained for a con- 
siderable length of time at Berlin after their marriage, as the 
latter was detained by military duties, yet the Queen could not 
sufficiently overcome her chagrin at the repeated failure of her 
plans to treat her daughter with the same affection as formerly ; 
neither could the King conquer his growing parsimony enough 
to give her more than a paltry sum as a dowry, which she found 
miserably inadequate to her expenditure. 

The marriage of the crown Prince with the Princess of Bruns- 
wick Bevern took place in June, 1733, and was immediately 
followed by that of the Princess Philippina Charlotte, with 
Prince Charles of Brunswick Bevern, brother of Elizabeth 
Christina, the new crown Princess. These marriages could not 
fail to be exceedingly displeasing to the Queen, the more so, 

* He did not approve of his sister's marriage to a prince of so insignificant a 
house ; he said, when Hille, the kammer-director of Kiistrin, informed him of the 
match which was about to take place, "Voilii ma soeur fiancee a quelque gredin, 
et malheureuse pour toute sa vie." 


that, by her instigation, a fresh proposition had been made on 
the part of England, despite the existence of their respective 
engagements, for the marriage of the crown Prince with the 
Princess Amelia of England ; for that of his sister Charlotte 
with the Prince of Wales ; and for that of Prince Charles of 
Brunswick with the Princess Ann of England. This proposal, 
however, like that which had arrived too late to stop the be- 
trothal of the Princess Royal, failed by reason of Frederic 
William's strict adherence to his pledged word. 

During the next year the King's attention was much occupied 
by the war for the succession of Poland, Augustus the Strong 
died in 1733, and Stanislaus Lecksinski was re-elected to the 
throne by one part of the nation, whilst the other declared for 
Augustus II. Frederic William was far from continuing to the 
son of the late King of Poland the friendship which he had 
testified towards his boon companion, Augustus the Strong ; 
but although personally friendly towards Stanislaus, when the 
latter' s son-in-law, Louis XV., threatened to make war upon 
Austria on his behalf, the King of Prussia held himself prepared 
to support his imperial ally ; consequently, he was deeply in- 
terested in the question whether France and Austria would 
ultimately have recourse to arms or not. 

Moreover, he considered it to be the duty of every German 
Prince to combine to keep the " French scoundrels," his prime 
aversion, and other "foreign dogs," off German ground. His 
boast was, " I am no Frenchman ; I am true German." When, 
therefore, hostilities seemed to be impending, he warmly ex- 
pressed his readiness to support the Emperor, provided that all 
were done " Reichs-constitutions-messig." " Dann," said he, 
" ohne raisonniren, drup ! drup ! mit die grosste Plesir von der 
Welt." * And again, " The Emperor will always find me a 
faithful ally; he may reckon on 50,000 naen." 

The Queen was less than ever inclined to the Austrian 
interests, and looked upon her husband's inclination to take an 
* Letter to Seckendorf, 1729. 



active part in the war with displeasure. Besides, she, justly 
enough, distrusted the sincerity of Austria, and openly expressed 
her opinions on the subject ; as once, when the King alluded to 
his devotion to Austria, she exclaimed, " I shall live to make 
you, who are so incredulous, believe, and prove to you how you. 
are deceived." * Her disapprobation also sometimes found 
vent in contemptuous expressions with regard to her husband's 
generalship and military genius, for which she does not appear 
to have entertained much respect. On one occasion, during 
Prince Eugene's visit to Berlin, in 1727, the King expressed 
his wish that a war might take place ; whereupon she exclaimed 
scornfully, " You 1 you wish for war ? " And at another time, 
when he spoke somewhat disparagingly of the English com- 
manders, she retorted, " No doubt they must wish to give you 
the command of their army." 

But Frederic William's zeal in behalf of Austria was con- 
siderably slackened by the procrastination of that Power in 
guaranteeing to him the ultimate succession of Juliers and 
Berg. A promise of this had drawn him, in 1726, into the 
compact of Wusterhausen, by which he gave his assent to the 
Pragmatic Sanction ; and Seckendorf had managed to keep 
him in good-humour with Austria ever since. Nevertheless, as 
time wore on, Frederic William grew impatient, and sometimes 
uttered his complaints so loudly, that the Austrian envoy was 
obliged to shut his ears absolutely, in order not to take offence 
on behalf of his Court. 

When the war actually commenced, Frederic William 
therefore sent only 10,000 men as his contingent, instead of 
50,000, which he had originally purposed to despatch to the 
aid of the Emperor. Accompanied by the crown Prince, he, 
however, himself visited the imperial camp during that unsuc- 
cessful campaign on the Rhine, in which the veteran Prince 
Eugene found, that age had dimmed the quickness of his eye 
and the readiness of his resource; whilst his friends and 
* See Vehse. 


admirers were forced to confess that the field of battle was no 
longer the place for the aged man that had, in him, outlived the 

Frederic William's health had now been long declining. 
Shortly after the marriage of the crown Prince he had been 
seized, whilst indulging, surrounded by his family, in his usual 
after-dinner sleep, with a sort of fit, which had greatly terrified 
the Queen and all present. Repeated attacks of gout also 
assailed him. Whilst with the army on the Rhine, he was 
seized by a violent fit of this malady. An incision, which had 
been necessary during the attack of 1730, opened afresh, and 
was injudiciously healed by the surgeon who attended him. 
From this time the King had few remissions of suffering. He 
returned, as soon as possible, to Potsdam and to the careful 
nursing of his wife, who never left him during his frequent ill- 
nesses ; but his indisposition had increased fearfully during the 
journey, so that on his arrival he was in a deplorable state, and, 
for some time, was considered in extreme danger. However, 
the natural strength of his constitution once more rallied, and 
he recovered, at least in some degree. It was his custom during 
these attacks of gout to paint, or rather to daub, for his paint- 
ings show but little skill in execution or design.* Some of 

* The ' ' Karakterziige" relate, amongst other anecdotes of Frederic "William 
in his character of artist, that one day (when in his usual health) he asked the 
castellan, who had a good deal of dry humour, his opinion of a hunting piece he 
had just completed. "It is excellent, your Majesty," he replied ; "quite in the 
style of the celebrated Dutch painter Bas Claas, who used to letter the figures, and 
write underneath, "A is the hound, B is the stag." The King jumped up to 
chastise him, but the castellan ran so fast round a great table that his master's 
anger had time to evaporate in the heat of the chase. 

Another anecdote relates that the King once obliged a picture -dealer to take one 
of his pictures at the sum of 100 Thalers, which he, wishing to please the King, 
had stated to be its value. But Frederic William, in bargains of this sort, which 
delighted him excessively, was sometimes outwitted. On this occasion the dealer 
hung the picture outside his shop, inscribed, ' ' For sale ; painted by H. M. the 
King of Prussia." Frederic William did not approve of this treatment of his 
work, and sent to reclaim it at the sum for which he had sold it. "Nay," said 
the dealer, "a man must live: his Majesty must give me 150 Thalers as the 

O 2 


these performances have heen preserved, and bear the inscrip- 
tion, " Fredericus Wilhelmus in tormentis pinxit," written with 
his own hand. 

Sometimes he used to assemble his friends round his bed, to 
hold the tabagie in his room; at others he amused himself in 
making boxes or other carpenter's work, for the accomplishment 
of which, he had a table adjusted to fit across his bed; and the 
sound of his hammer, which might be heard night and day 
when he was -very ill, informed the inhabitants of the neigh- 
bouring streets of the state of their sovereign's health. Yet 
amidst his severest sufferings Frederic William never forgot the 
business of the State, nor omitted to dedicate a certain portion 
of time every day to its accomplishment. 

He about this time experienced several losses and changes 
amongst his ancient friends. Between him and Anhalt there 
had for some time been a degree of coldness. Seckendorf 
was recalled to his Court, or rather caused himself to be 
recalled, for the King's recruiters had committed some 
depredations on the Austrian territories, and Seckendorf s 
remonstrances upon the subject were not attended to ; he, con- 
sequently, in 1735, applied for his recall. He was afterwards 
employed by the Emperor to take the command of the expedi- 
tion against the Turks, on account of the unsuccessful issue of 
which he was arrested on his return to Vienna. He was suc- 
ceeded at Berlin by Prince Lichtenstein, a man of less ability, 
and one, moreover, who did not understand Frederic William. 
The latter never ceased during the still-pending negotiations as 
to the succession of Juliers and Berg to regret his old friend, 
and to sigh for his return. " Austria/' he said, " is tired of 
me ; she has withdrawn Seckendorf, in whom I had confidence, 
and who understood me."* 

Grumbkow, too, was no longer in such high favour as of 
yore; a suspicion of his fidelity had been aroused in the King's 
mind by various circumstances. The health of this minister, 
* Seckendorf 's " Journal Secret." 


like that of his master, had succumbed to the then prevalent 
habit of deep drinking. Shortly before the death of Augustus 
the Strong, Grumbkow had been sent on a mission to him at 
Crossen; and the time which they spent together there was 
honoured by such plentiful libations, that neither the King of 
Poland, nor the Prussian Minister ever entirely recovered the 
effects of the debauch. On the night of the death of Augustus, 
his apparition is said to have been beheld by Grumbkow, who 
was in bed at the time, but, as he always declared, wide awake. 

Reports of his having received bribes from La Chetardie, the 
French Minister, are said to have reached Frederic William j 
however that may be, on the news of the death of Grumbkow 
reaching him, in 1739, he said, " If he had lived ten days longer, 
I should have arrested him ;" he also seemed highly dissatisfied 
by an examination of his late favourite's papers. 

The continual series of family misunderstandings at Court 
has hitherto prevented my adverting to the influence, which the 
reign of such a sovereign as Frederic William, necessarily exer- 
cised over the newly-germinating seeds of literature and science 
at Berlin. The latter part of the reign of Frederic I. had been 
unfavourable to the development of those then rare and foreign 
plants, from the absence of any person of rank of sufficient 
mental cultivation to appreciate their value. But when Frederic 
William came to the throne, it was with the express intention 
of discouraging all such vile waste of time, as he considered 
literary and scientific pursuits to be. The great Leibnitz him- 
self he pronounced to be an " unprofitable, foolish old fellow, 
of no use even as a sentinel;" and on the philosopher's death, 
in derision of the Academy of Sciences, he appointed his un- 
happy fool and jester, Gundling, to occupy his place as presi- 
sident. He is said only once during his reign to have had 
recourse to the Academy on any scientific question, and that 
was upon the cause of the effervescence of champagne. The 
members of the Society, owing him a grudge for the neglect 
with which they had been treated, demanded fifteen dozen of 


the best champagne to make their experiments upon; but 
Frederic William replied, that, sooner than let them drink his 
good wine, he would remain in ignorance of the cause of its 
effervescence all his life. Probably the department of Medicine 
alone preserved the Academy in existence ; the King required 
skilful physicians for his beloved blue children, and consequently 
allowed that this branch of the Institution was useful. 

Early in his reign he had established a college of his own of 
a very different kind ; this was the famous " Tabaks Collegium," 
Smoking College, or " Tabagie/' in which he and his officers, and 
certain of his favourites, used to assemble every evening, and fre- 
quently remain till late into the night, engaged in smoking and 
drinking beer. The Tabagie was furnished with a long table, 
surrounded by wooden seats ; at one end was a large wooden 
chair of honour, surmounted by hares' ears, which was occupied 
by the King's fool. During the visit paid by Stanislaus Leck- 
sinski to Frederic William, in 1736, he constantly formed one 
of these parties, which began at seven in the evening, and fre- 
quently did not terminate till two, or three o'clock in the morn- 
ing. The King of Prussia and the ex-King of Poland used to 
emulate each other in smoke upon these occasions, each of 
them exhausting from thirty to thirty-two pipes in the course 
of one session. Seckendorf, of course, formed one of these 
assemblies, and he writes to Prince Eugene, that he has applied 
himself especially, to gain those officers who form the smoking 
collegiate, because they have, from constant association, most 
influence over the King.* The unhappy jester, Gundling, who 
has been mentioned, was in fact a person of considerable talent, 
although evidently of weak mind; he had at first been Pro- 
fessor in the Military Academy formed by Frederic William on 
his accession. But the King and his officers found that, after 
a time, they became weary of each other's conversation : they 
therefore came to the conclusion, that it might be better to have 
a person of some information, who, when their own topics of 

* See Vehse. 


conversation waxed threadbare, should furnish them with new 
ideas. Gundling, then, was chosen to supply the " plentiful 
lack of wit " of the whole party, and to furnish sport for the 
Philistines besides, for they considered " all learned persons to 
be fools," and a fool was allowedly a fair subject for their 
jokes. They forced the poor man to drink until it became an 
incurable habit; and when intoxicated, they exercised the 
most barbarous practical jokes upon him ; sometimes they would 
wall up his door and leave him to grope for it the whole night : 
sometimes they would put young bears (of which several, with 
their claws cut, always ran loose at Wusterhausen), into his 
bed; once he was nearly hugged to death by one of these 
animals. Rendered wretched, as well as injured in health by 
the merciless persecutions of his tormentors, poor Gundling 
escaped to his brother, a learned professor at Halle. But 
Frederic William and his colleagues of the Tabagie, were lost 
without their butt ; he was fetched back, and the old course of 
brutal jokes resumed at his expense. But their victim remained 
silent and melancholy ; they relaxed therefore slightly in their 
efforts, finding that he no longer amused them, and allowed him 
a little peace. On his death even, one last ferocious joke was 
perpetrated upon his corpse by the King's order, namely, that 
of burying him in a wine cask.* He was succeeded in his 
honourable office by Fassman and Morgenstern. 

During the latter years of the King's life his tendency to 
eccentricity and parsimony increased upon him daily. He was 
of a singularly restless and active disposition himself, and he 
abhorred idleness in others. He had long since made a decree 
that all those women who kept stalls in the streets of Berlin 
should occupy their time in knitting or spinning, f and a 
regular return was made of the products of their industry, 
which was received as part payment of their licence. He also 
ordained, that a report should be made to the judicial authori- 
ties, of all such young women as spent their time in idle amuse- 

* See Morgenstern for this account. 

t See Rodenbeck, " Beitrage zum Leben F. W. I." 


ments; that admonitions should be administered to such young 
persons and their parents ; and that severer measures should 
be resorted to if amendment did not take place. This hatred 
of idleness and loss of time, however, now so grew upon the 
King, that it was dangerous for any one to meet him in the 
streets on a week-day. An interrogation was sure to ensue ; 
probably a sound rating and much abuse; and if the offender 
could not give a good account of his business, or stumbled 
upon a French word in his alarm, a blow of the ever-ready 
stick, or perhaps even arrest, awaited him. Wherever the King 
appeared the streets were cleared as if by magic. Upon one 
occasion he caused two young girls, whom he met on a week- 
day in the gardens of Charlottenburg, to be put under arrest, 
without even taking the trouble to inquire their names \ their 
families, who were of the highest respectability, and who did 
not know what had become of them, were meantime in the 
greatest anxiety on their account. 

The stick which he used in his summary administration of 
chastisement, was latterly never out of his hand, unless he was 
too ill to wield it. His health might even, in some degree, be 
judged of by the freedom of its application ; for, says Secken- 
dorf, in his journal, during Frederic William's desperate illness 
in 1734, 29th October, " The King beats the Jagers because 
they have stolen wood : the crisis seems over." 

His habit of striking had grown so strong upon him, says 
Morgenstern, that he could not withstand it, but rather " ima- 
gined it to be necessary to maintain an orderly household." 
" He used sometimes to go amongst his servants with his stick, 
and say, ' You have had nothing for a long time ; you must 
have something, lest you grow lazy/ " In matters of economy 
he was as original as in other things : he made reductions in 
all imaginable articles of expenditure, even to the paper on 
which official reports were handed in to him. In one of his 
usual marginal comments on those documents he writes, "Stuff 
not worth the paper. Shall take worse." 

As regarded also the actual diet for the Palace consumption, 


even the Queen complained, writes Seckendorf, of the "horrible 
avarice" of the King in this respect. He was a great eater 
himself, though no epicure, " devouring much solid food, and 
scarcely masticating it." Nevertheless, he reduced the quan- 
tity of food provided for the twenty-four persons who ordinarily 
constituted the company at the royal table, to the most 
famine-struck proportions, whilst the expense of its main- 
tenance was reduced to seven Thalers daily.* 

Seckendorf says, " The poor Princes and Princesses had often 
not a mouthful of anything eatable;" and Thiebault, in his 
" Souvenirs," asserts that Pollnitz, who was then gentleman 
of the Chamber, told him the Queen's table was often so 
sparingly supplied, that he himself had often, out of his own 
pocket, paid for eggs to furnish an omelette for her supper. 

I might here relate numberless anecdotes of Frederic William's 
eccentricities, but I have already overstepped the limits which 
I had prescribed to myself. I therefore only insert one or two, 
in which the Queen is mentioned as one of the parties con- 

Sophia Dorothea had a set of very splendid diamonds, which 
she seldom ventured to wear in the presence of her arbitrary 
and display- abhorring lord. She herself, however, had no ob- 
jection to array her fine person in costly attire, and upon one 
occasion, during the King's temporary indisposition, she ap- 
peared at a birth-day ball at Monbijou adorned with these 
magnificent ornaments. The evening was very gay in the 
absence of the stern master; the dancing and music were at 
their height, and the Queen was deeply immersed in her game, 
when the announcement, (f The King is coming," caused a 
general consternation. The music ceased ; the dancing stopped; 
and the Queen, as she sat, hastily unclasped her jewels, and 
thrust them into her pocket, before the King had time to 
withdraw his angry gaze from the brilliantly and extravagantly 
lighted apartment, and perceive them. 

* Seckendorf s "Journal Secret." 


Another story is related by Thiebault, which, were it not for 
the King's eccentric character, we should scarcely credit. It 
is well known that he had ordered his own and his wiiVs 
coffins to be constructed before his death, and on the completion 
of the work, says this author, he obliged the horrified Queen, 
who " looked upon the order almost as a death-warrant," to lie 
down in hers; he then fitted his own, out of which he was 
obliged to ask her assistance to raise himself again. 

We have but few and incidental notices of Sophia Dorothea 
during the latter part of her husband's life. She was con- 
stantly occupied with her attendance upon him ; she seldom 
left his room for months before his death, save to follow him in 
his wheeled chair ; she bore with his impatience, soothed his 
suffering, and hers was the hand which, to the last, best smoothed 
the pillow, and administered the potion. Surely such devotion 
might atone for many a gust of passion, and many an ungene- 
rous deed of earlier years. 

At the time of the marriage of the crown Prince, the Mar- 
gravine of Baireuth gives a painful description of the alteration 
in her mother's appearance, and of the increased irritability of 
her temper, which had been soured by frequent disappointment. 
But probably the comparative calm which succeeded this event 
acted beneficially upon her mind and health, and at least par- 
tially restored her former equanimity, for at the time of her hus- 
band's death, though exceedingly stout, she was still a very fine- 
looking woman j and she preserved also, that graceful courtesy 
of manner, and that dignity of demeanour, which had always 
characterised her. She does not appear even yet to have 
entirely given up all hopes of an English alliance, as we find 
Baron Seckendorf (the nephew of that Seckendorf to whom we 
have so frequently had occasion to allude) referring to a " recon- 
ciliation between the houses of England and Prussia nego- 
tiated by the Queens ;" and again stating that "La Herwein 
has conveyed the portrait of Ulrica to the Prince of Wales, and 
entertained Olympia (the Queen) with false hopes. " After 


awhile comes this passage in the " Journal Secret: " " Olympia 
is in despair that the marriage of Ulrica has failed, and irritates 
the King against my uncle and the Imperial Court, the more 
that she has now nothing further to hope on the side of Eng- 
land. Nevertheless the Queen of England has written a letter 
full of tenderness and of assurances of friendship, which 
Biberius (Grumbkow) has seen in the original. As the Prince 
of Wales is no longer to be thought of for Ulrica, they speak 
of the eldest son of the hereditary Prince of Darmstadt, but 
Biberius does not think that the King will consent, since he 
has plenty of poor sons-in-law already." At a yet later date 
follows the entry, " The King is about to marry les beaux yeux 
(the Princess Ulrica) into the family, at which Olympia is in 
despair." This danger, however, was averted, and Ulrica 
proved eventually, to be the only one of Sophia Dorothea's 
daughters who was destined to wear a crown. 

The Queen was on good terms with the crown Prince, although 
her dislike to his wife does not seem to have worn away with 
time.* It is probable that she hoped, that on the accession of 
the son who had always shown himself so obedient to her will, 
and so attentive to her wishes, she would assume a greater weight 
in the Government than her husband had ever allowed her ; the 
sequel will show whether her expectations were well founded. 

In the beginning of November, 1739, the King was attacked 
by his last illness. He rallied again sufficiently to go out, and 
even to join in the sledge excursions which took place during 
the visit of the Duke and Duchess of Brunswick to Berlin at 
Christmas. He also privately countermanded the orders which 
had been given by the various ladies and gentlemen of the Court 
to the tradesmen for dresses, &c., for a masked ball, of which 
he disapproved. Finding himself better one evening, he caused 
himself to be dressed and taken to the smoking-room, to which 
he summoned the members of the Tabagie, and appeared gay 
and lively. Unfortunately, however, on the entrance of the 
* Seckendorf says, " Olympia hait mortellement la Princesse Royale." 


crown Prince, these guests, contrary to the laws of the College, 
rose from their seats. This " homage to the rising sun," as he 
termed it, so irritated the King, that he dismissed the company 
in disgrace, and was not reconciled to the crown Prince for 
some time. But the constant affection and attention which 
Frederic, much to his credit, testified to his dying father, could 
not fail to have its effect ; and the King embraced him a few 
days before his death, thanking God for giving him so good a 
son, and so worthy a successor. 

He now became rapidly worse, and it was evident to all that 
the final struggle was nigh at hand. He made all the arrange- 
ments for his funeral, and for a post-mortem examination, to 
ascertain the cause of death ; he ordered his coffin to be brought 
into his room for his inspection, with the greatest coolness. 
He also spoke long and earnestly with the clergyman, Roloff, 
who rigidly reminded him of all the acts of oppression and in- 
justice of which he had been guilty. "You do not spare me," 
said the King, " but I do not see that I have been guilty of any 
such heinous sin as must exclude me from Heaven ; at least I 
have kept the Commandments, and I have always been faithful 
to my wife." 

The Queen sent for the crown Prince on the night of the 
26th of May, in consequence of a change which had taken 
place in the King. But when Frederic arrived from Rheins- 
berg, whence he had travelled with all speed, he was astonished 
to find the King in his chair, in the garden ; it was, however, 
but a momentary rally. He had a long final conversation with 
the Prince Royal, and took a solemn and tender leave of the 
Queen, his sons and daughters, and other relatives. On 
the morning of the 31st of May, he caused himself to be 
conveyed in his chair, very early, to the Queen's apartment.* 

* Pollnitz met him on this occasion, at six o'clock in the morning ; he had also 
been to the chamber of one of his younger children who was indisposed ; he was 
wrapped in a white dressing gown, and had the marks of death plainly visible in 
his face. 



" Rise," said he, " I have but a few hours to live,, and I would 
at least have the satisfaction of dying in your arms." He then 
went back to his own room, and being placed at the window, he 
ordered his horses to be brought out, and presented two of the 
finest to Anhalt and Haack, as a parting gift ; but even here 
Frederic William was the same man as ever ; * the grooms had 
not saddled the horses to his liking, " Go out," he said to 
Haack, "and flog me those scoundrels." The Queen then 
entered, and the King's weakness shortly after overpowering 
him, he fainted and was put to bed ; he recovered yet again 
and asked for a mirror. "I am changed," he said, "I shall 
make an ugly face in dying. "f He asked his medical attendant 
Ellert, how long he had to live ; he was told that his pulse was 
failing. His last words were " Lord Jesus, I live in Thee, I die 
in Thee. Thou art my gain in life and death." The Queen 
was led out of the room as Frederic William breathed his last, 
in the arms of his son and successor. Thus, May 31, 1740, 
in the 52nd year of his age, and the 27th of his reign, died 
Frederic William, the second King of Prussia. 

The loss of a husband, who, despite his frequent harsh treat- 
ment, had been sincerely attached to her, and who was endeared 
by the habitual intercourse of many years, deeply affected 
Sophia Dorothea. When the Marchioness of Baireuth revisited 
Berlin, she found her mother clad in deep mourning, and with 
an air of profound dejection impressed upon her features. This 
was, perhaps, in part, owing to the fact, that the son whom she 
had hoped almost wholly to govern, had shown a more utter 
disinclination to any interference in the Government than his 

* He was very particular, in practising his troops with the musket, that the 
report of the pieces should present one unbroken roll, like a chromatic scale on a 
musical instrument ; and when he was giving orders for his body-guard to 
fire the last salute at his funeral, he called out briskly, "But take care the 
dogs don't bungle at it." 

f Frederic William was terribly altered in personal appearance long before his 
death. Bielefeld describes him, in 1738, as being excessively corpulent, his head 
sunk deep between his shoulders, whilst various shades of "red, yellow, blue, 
and green," mingled frightfully in his complexion. 


father ever had done. He had indeed, with perhaps a spice of 
that half-playful malice, with which he had raised and then 
quenched the hopes of some of the needy courtiers who had 
paid court to the rising sun, raised her expectations, by privately 
asking her counsel about the building of an opera house ! He 
was, however, always most tenderly respectful to her. When, 
after his father's funeral, she addressed him as "Your Majesty/' 
he interrupted her by saying, " Always call me your son, that 
title is dearer to me than the royal dignity." * He always 
presented himself at her levees at Monbijou, where she now 
constantly resided. On entering her presence, he used to take 
off his hat, and remain standing till she requested him to be 

He also did her the justice to say that she had brought up 
her children well, as far as the King had left them in her hands, 
and he never accused her of having been, in any measure, the 
cause of his misfortunes. An anecdote is related of him, which 
shows the jealousy with which his filial reverence guarded his 
mother's name from every approach to disrespect from others. 
When, during his journey to receive the homage of his West- 
phalian subjects, the fancy to tread for once on French ground 
and see a French garrison, or, as some persons imagine, the idea 
of an incognito visit to Paris, led him to pass the French fron- 
tier and visit Strasbourg, under the name of the Count du 
Four, the wife of the governor Marechal de Broglie, ignorant 
of the rank of her guest, asked him if he had ever been at 
Hanover ; he replied in the negative, but asked her if she had. 
" Oh, yes," she said, " my father was the French Minister 
there, and I knew the Princess Sophia Dorothea, now Queen 
Dowager of Prussia ; she possessed so much amiability and 
goodness, and so many virtues, that she would have been per- 
fect, had it not been for a little of that pride from which the 
great houses of Germany can never quite free themselves." The 
King replied, " I beg to inform you, madam, that I have never 

* Kugler. 


heard the Queen Dowager of Prussia spoken of, save with the 
most profound respect." " Oh, monsieur, she deserves it, there 
is but this little tinge of the morgue Germanique" - " I have just 
observed to you, madam, that it is only in terms of the most 
profound respect, and without any reserve, that Her Majesty has 
been spoken of before me," interrupted Frederic, when fortu- 
nately the return of the Governor broke off the conversation. 

Of her ten children, the daughters were now all married, with 
the exception of the two youngest princesses, Ulrica and Amelia, 
who remained with their mother after their father's death. 
Prince William was now in the first dawn of his manhood, 
he was, says Bielefeld, " the handsomest man I ever saw, tall and 
well proportioned, with brown hair and blue eyes." But his 
education had been terribly neglected, for he having been his 
father's favourite, the latter had kept him constantly with him, 
both in the camp and in the sports of the field ; Prince William 
improved himself much in this respect after his father's death, 
but still he could never express himself with ease, and he was 
always exceedingly shy when in company. He was a great 
admirer of the fair sex, and was always over head and ears in 
love with some fair damsel of the Court. At one time he caused 
his mother much uneasiness by the violence of his passion for 
her beautiful maid of honour, Laura von Pannewitz, who, f< tall 
and tower-like, half Diana half Venus; naive and tender/'* 
although she was by no means insensible to the attractions of 
her princely lover, nevertheless relieved the fears of the Queen 
by espousing the Baron von Voss, a man for whom she had no 
inclination, in order to free herself from the addresses of Prince 

Prince Henry seems more to have resembled his elder brother 
in character than either of the others, and Prince Ferdinand 
was then a mere boy of ten years of age; they were both still 
under the care of tutors. 

Sophia Dorothea's dislike to her son's amiable consort ap- 
* Thiebault. 


pears to have remained in full force for several years after 
Frederic II.'s accession to the throne had given Elizabeth Chris- 
tina the first place in all questions of precedence, and thrown 
Sophia Dorothea, as Queen Dowager, into the background. 

She had no reason, however, to lament any loss of actual 
power, in such matters as Frederic the Great allowed to come 
under female direction : her audience chamber was quite as 
much thronged as that of the reigning Queen, and the ambas- 
sadors of foreign Courts would sooner have thought of neglecting 
the claims of the latter to their homage, than those of the 

It was to her house that Frederic paid the first visit on his 
return from his campaigns ; and it was there also that he 
appointed his Queen to meet him on these occasions. The 
Queen Dowager, too, was always invited to Potsdam (the 
King's general residence after his accession, until Sans-souci 
was built) at least once in the year, whilst the reigning Queen 
was sorely mortified at her own exclusion from these invitations. 

Sophia Dorothea's name occurs in many incidental notices 
after the decease of her husband. We find her in queenly array 
of black velvet and diamonds, dignifying the wedding festival 
of her son, Prince William, in 1742. Again* we observe her 
glowing with maternal pride, and shedding tears of mater- 
nal tenderness at the marriage and departure of her beau- 
tiful daughter Ulrica, the future Queen of Sweden, in 1 744. 
In far less dignified guise, she figures at Charlottenberg, 
when during a great festival given by Frederic at that place in 
1747, a fire broke out in the room adjoining her bed-room. 
Bielefeld met her in the courtyard, which was filled with terrified 
and bewildered maids of honour, courtiers and servants, in all 
stages of undress, herself in deshabille, carried in a sedan-chair 
by two soldiers, and attended by the Chamberlain Pollnitz, in 
dressing-gown, slippers and nightcap. Her august presence 
reminded the lively Baron of his own deficiency of clothing, at 
the same time that it brought vividly to his memory that 


passage from Racine : " Moi, la fille, femme et soeur de votre 
maitre I 39 

The two Queens remained in Berlin together during Fredericks 
absence in the Silesian war, and rejoiced in common on his 
triumphant return; after which time, with the exception of 
occasional misunderstandings, they appear to have been on 
tolerably friendly terms; and towards the close of the Queen 
Mother's life, the gentle, unassuming character of her daughter- 
in-law seems, at last, to have overcome the long-enduring pre- 
judices of Sophia Dorothea, whom we find treating her with 
affection and confidence. 

A gradual and gentle decay appears to have rather warned 
Sophia Dorothea of advancing old age, than of the approach of 
death ; her son supped with her at Monbijou, on the night of 
the 19th August, 1756, before going to join the army at the 
commencement of the Seven Years' War. He visited her once 
again after his first triumphant campaign in January, 1757. 
His last visit on this occasion was, as before, paid to his mother 
at Monbijou, and he parted from her for the last time, on the 
thirteenth of that month. 

After that event her health was not so materially worse as 
to give cause for alarm. She wrote to her daughter Charlotte, 
now Duchess of Brunswick Bevern, in June, " My health re- 
mains much in the same state. I suffer always from great 
weakness, although I do all I can to recover my strength ; 
nevertheless, I remain very feeble. I see that I must arm my- 
self with much patience." This letter reached the Duchess on 
the 28th, the very day on which her mother tranquilly breathed 
her last. 

There is no reason to suppose that Formey's conjecture, that 
the news of the disastrous battle of Kollin proved a " nail in 
her coffin/' was true ; the news probably reached Berlin a little 
subsequently to her decease. Her son received the sad intelli- 
gence of his loss whilst still sunk in bitter contemplation of the 
dreadful consequences of that defeat. This additional blow 


went nigh to crush the small remains of hope which yet lurked 
in his heart : he shut himself up in his tent, and refused to see 
any one. In these moments of despondency, dark thoughts of 
seeking oblivion to his anguish in a repose as cold and silent as 
hers for whom he mourned, are said from time to time to have 
crossed his mind, and to have been cherished by him, rather 
than dismissed as fearful and dangerous guests. 

The first communication in which he suffered his grief to find 
vent was a letter to his sister the Margravine of Baireuth ; 
and the expressions of which he makes use, show with how deep 
a tenderness and veneration her memory was cherished by him, 
and how terrible was the blank which her loss had left in his 
heart. And, certainly no higher testimony can be paid to the 
memory of a parent than such tributes of love and grief from 
a man like Frederic, of whom those who knew him in later 
days, doubted whether such a sentiment as that of affection 
existed in his heart. 





desired that his wife should afford no occasion to be 
spoken of, and Queen Elizabeth Christina fulfilled these con- 
ditions entirely," says Thiebault, in his memoirs of his inter- 
course with the great monarch of Prussia. The remark is just, 
and equally so the commentary upon it that she remained 
thus unobtrusively in the background because it was her 
Caesar's unexpressed wish, rather than because it was his de- 
clared will that she should do so. The unloved wife of a man 
whom she idolized, she bore with submissive sweetness and 
Christian resignation the coldness of that isolated position, 
which, like solitary imprisonment to an active mind, is produc- 
tive of absolute torture to a person endowed with warm 

Dwelling, as she did, with intense interest and affection upon 
the thought of her husband and all that pertained to him, yet 
she never intruded herself upon him, never even once set foot 
within the monastic walls of Sans-souci; but quietly she em- 
ployed her time in a round of instructive employment and 
gentle beneficence, which brought down upon her the blessings 
of all who became acquainted with the quiet benevolence, which 
did not let her left hand know the doings of her right. 

Her husband had united himself with her in a marriage, 
which he confessedly regarded as the heavy price of his free- 

p 2 


dom.* This she knew, and she bore that lot of all others the 
most difficult to bear, the sense of being an incumbrance with 
a fortitude and humility which, to my mind, elevate this little- 
known Princess to something not far short of a heroine. 

We must now revert to the period of the enlargement of the 
crown Prince at the time of his sister's marriage. 

How entirely both Grumbkow and Seckendorf possessed the 
key to the secret workings of Frederic William's character, and 
how ruthlessly they used their power of alarming his consti- 
tutional obstinacy, by the fear of an appearance of yielding to 
any external influence, must have been abundantly manifest in 
the course of the preceding narrative. Now, therefore, whilst as 
usual acting as the blind tool of men, with whose astuteness his 
own blunt simplicity of character had no chance of competition, 
he undertook completely to vindicate his absolute independence 
of action, by marrying his son, not to an English Princess, 
which would have been highly prejudicial to the Austrian inte- 
rests, but to the Empress's own niece an idea which, of course, 
had only been suggested to him by his own personal friendship 
for her father, and not in the least by the artful imperial envoy, 
and the worthless favourite in Austrian pay, to whom he submit- 
ted all his most private thoughts with such childish confidence ! 

So Frederic William believed, and so accordingly he acted. 

The Princess who was the object of this most unbiassed 
selection, was the eldest daughter of Duke Ferdinand Albert of 
Brunswick Bevern, who had married his cousin, Antoinette. 
Amalie of Brunswick Blankenburg, sister of that Princess Eliza- 
beth Christina, who, after so many conscientious scruples, had 
at length embraced the Roman Catholic religion on her mar- 
riage with the Archduke Charles, afterwards the Emperor 
Charles VI. f 

* "It should be remembered that I have been constrained to this marriage 
whether I would or not, and that it is the price of my freedom." Letter of Fred, 
to Grumbkow. See Preuss' s ' ' Jugend jahre. ' ' 

f This marriage took place at Barcelona. The Princess, in changing her re- 
ligion, had yielded to the persuasions of her uncle, the Duke of Brunswick 


There had been, at first, an idea in the Austrian councils, of 
marrying the crown Prince of Prussia to the young Archduchess 
Maria Theresa, but Frederic William was staunchly and con- 
scientiously Protestant, and would never have listened to the 
idea of his son's becoming a Roman Catholic ; besides, faithful 
ally as he was of Austria, his easily-roused suspicion would 
have taken alarm at the prospect of the alliance of his heir with 
so near and so powerful a neighbour. Therefore the Empress's 
niece and namesake, Elizabeth Christina of Brunswick Bevern, 
was selected as a person to whom no such alarming appre- 
hensions could apply. 

The suggestion had been artfully made a considerable time 
previously to Frederic William ; he mentioned the Princess of 
Brunswick Bevern to the Queen, as has been stated, before his 
quarrel with Hotham. It had not been allowed to die out of 
his memory since ; he now proceeded to act upon it. 

Shortly after the marriage of the Margravine of Baireuth, Sec- 
kendorf was commissioned to broach the subject of his marriage 
to the crown Prince. Three Princesses were proposed to him for 
his nominal selection, but his subsequent letters show how little 
freedom of choice was actually allowed him. "He is resolved 
to marry/' writes the ambassador (19th June, 1731), " because 
he sees that he cannot hope for entire freedom on any other 
condition : he has decided for the Princess of Bevern, provided 
that she be ni sotte ni degoutante" On the 4th of February 
the ensuing year a letter from Frederic William announced to 
the crown Prince, that it was the paternal pleasure that he 
should take to wife the eldest Princess of Bevern, whom, 
having examined into the "conduct and education of all the 

Wolfenbuttel, the head of the house, who had told her that it was his intention 
himself, on conscientious grounds, to become a Roman Catholic. When she found 
that, after her marriage, he did not fulfil his engagement, she again became re- 
morseful and uneasy, and her uncle performed his promise. Proposals of marriage 
had before been made by the Archduke to the Princess Caroline of Anspach, but 
she had declined to make the necessary change of religion, even with the chance 
of the imperial crown in prospect. 


Princesses of the land," he had found to be " well brought 
up, modest, and retiring, as women ought to be." 

He further gives his " dear son Fritz " the information that 
the Princess is " neither handsome nor ugly," and desires him 
to inform the Queen of his engagement, Frederic immediately 
communicated to his father his entire submission to his will in 
this, as in all other things. At the same time, with a faint hope of 
inducing Grumbkow to use his influence over the King, he was 
writing to that treacherous favourite in terms of intimacy, and 
even of friendship, to express his intense hope that his father 
would not marry him to a fool, for report spoke slightingly of 
the capacity of the Princess of Bevern. He says he would in- 
finitely prefer a coquette, or even worse, to a blockhead. Again, 
with deeper and more creditable feeling, he intreats Grumbkow 
to induce his father, " as a Christian," to reflect on the evil 
consequences and the sins caused by ill-assorted marriages. 
" If there are any honest people left in the world," says he, 
" let them endeavour to save me from the most perilous position 
I have ever been placed in. Good God ! has not the King seen 
enough of ill-assorted marriages in the case of my sis'ter of 
Anspach and her husband, who hate each other like fire ? " 

Again he writes, " They say she has a sister who at least has 
common sense ; why prefer the eldest ? " 

Nevertheless, despite all his passionate entreaties and remon- 
strances (it is by no means certain that they ever reached his 
father), the engagement for binding him to a woman whom he 
had never seen, and against whom he entertained a most violent 
prejudice, whether justly or unjustly founded, was ratified be- 
tween the respective fathers. The Duke of Brunswick Bevern 
was regarded by Frederic William with great esteem. He ex- 
pressed his opinion that there was " no better man amongst all 
the Kings and Princes of Europe;" and thus, forgetting the 
manoeuvres he had himself put in practice, to obtain the object to 
whom his inclination pointed at the period of his own marriage, 
he disregarded the inclinations of the crown Prince altogether, and 


married him, as the latter expressed it, " as if my father were 
marrying for himself and not for me." He wrote to his sister, 
the Margravine of Baireuth, who, with her husband was now 
at Baireuth, " They are about to force me to marry a Princess 
whom I do not know. They have extorted a promise from me 
which has cost me much pain." 

The Queen was excessively irritated at this second complete 
overthrow of her plans for an English alliance. She set no 
bounds either to her anger, or to the expression of it, constantly 
speaking of the future crown Princess in the bitterest and most 
contemptuous terms. Matters were not improved after the 
introduction of the Princess of Brunswick Bevern to her bride- 
groom and her mother-in-law, which took place shortly after- 
wards, when she visited Berlin, accompanied by her father and 

Elizabeth Christina was then seventeen ; she had but recently 
recovered from the small-pox, and was still disfigured by the 
marks of the spots. She had been brought up very privately 
at her father's Court, and was as shy as any other country girl 
would have been, on being brought into the midst of an assem- 
blage of strangers, and paraded before the scrutinizing gaze of 
the Queen's imposing majesty, the said majesty being very 
much disposed to crush the young intruder, who either lisped 
and stammered such incomprehensible replies to her cold com- 
pliments, or else remained in embarrassed silence. 

There was a grand ball given on the 10th of March, at which 
the King publicly announced that the crown Prince and the 
Princess Elizabeth Christina of Brunswick Bevern were be- 
trothed. The Queen could not help herself; she could only be 
ungracious to the last degree, and make no secret of the fact, 
that she considered her future daughter-in-law a fool. She 
also gave vent to her feelings by writing to the Marchioness of 
Baireuth, "La Princesse est belle, mais sotte comme un pa- 
nier." " I know not how my son will ever accommodate him- 
self to the young guenuche" * 

* Young ape. 


Perhaps the person who looked upon the poor young Princess 
with the least unfavourable eyes was the crown Prince himself; 
but he was cold and constrained in his manner towards her, 
and she was terribly afraid of her future bridegroom. 

In the beginning of April this visit, so trying to the prin- 
cipal parties concerned, came to a conclusion, and the Princess 
returned, gladly enough, to the paternal mansion. 

The two fathers of the young couple seemed perfectly content 
with the arrangement, and two other persons Grumbkow and 
Seckendorf certainly had reason to be satisfied with the trium- 
phant success of their schemes. What did it matter that an 
innocent girl was made the sacrifice to the interested views 
of all parties ? 

" I take her as the price of my freedom," said the Prince, 
"but I can never love her." The King regarded her with 
complacency, as the seal of his absolute mastery over the 
unruly will of his son; the Austrian ambassador and the 
Prussian minister as the cipher, of no weight save as to its 
place in the account; whilst the Queen beheld in her the 
odious stumbling-block which had overthrown the cherished 
plans of years of anxious scheming. 

This was but a painful prospect to meet the eyes of a timid, 
youthful bride ; fortunate, indeed, was it, if the early percep- 
tions of Elizabeth Christina were not sufficiently clear to allow 
the whole terrible future to break upon her, in all its bleak 
heartlessness, at once. 

She was accompanied, on her return to her father's Court, by 
Madame de Katsch,* an accomplished lady, who received the 
onerous charge of forming the mind and manners of the future 
Queen of Prussia. A first-rate dancing-master was also pro- 
vided, by the care of Seckendorf, to reduce the really fine person 
of the untrained and somewhat awkward girl, to some degree 
of obedience to the rules of elegance of carriage and dignity 
of deportment. 

Whilst this needful process was going on with the bride- 

* Widow of the severe judge Katsch. See above ; Life of Sophia Dorothea. 


elect, and whilst she was still allowed to enjoy a measure, at 
least, of freedom, and the society of her numerous brothers and 
sisters for she was the third child of a family of fourteen, the 
crown Prince, as an earnest of the considerations for which he 
had given his consent to take her, received the command of a 
regiment and an establishment at Riippin from his father, 
whilst 5000 imperial ducats found their way to the future 
relative of the Empress, to relieve him from the most pressing 
claims of his creditors. 

To occupy his leisure at Riippin he made a garden, and built 
a rustic temple ; as mentioned above also, he took pains in the 
drilling and disciplining of his regiment, and as the surest road 
to his father's favour, expended considerable sums in obtaining 
tall recruits ; * and though he thus involved himself in fresh 
expenses, which his own resources, even with the additions 
which were sometimes supplied both from Austria and Russia, 
were quite inadequate to defray, and though a most harassing 
burden of debt was thus accumulated, still the chief end was 
gained his father was appeased, and absolutely gracious. 

He corresponded likewise with his betrothed, although it is 
true that his father found fault because the correspondence was 
not lively enough, and Frederic confessed that he found it diffi- 
cult to fill his page ; f gifts also passed between them, and 
packages of the famous Brunswick sausages were despatched 
from Salzdahlum to Ruppin, as a present from the Princess to 
her intended lord ! 

When the Margravine of Baireuth returned to Berlin for the 
first time, on a visit to her parents, of course the subject of the 
marriage of her brother was foremost on the tapis; and she 
describes her astonishment and pain at the manner in which 
the Princess of Brunswick Bevern was spoken of by the Queen 

* Frederic had no penchant for tall soldiers himself, neither did he imagine 
them to be better suited for military purposes than men of ordinary stature. The 
tall regiment was disbanded immediately after his father's death. 

f Preuss, Letter of Frederic to Grumbkow. 


and the Princess Charlotte at supper, in the presence not only 
of Prince Frederic, but even of the domestics in attendance. 

" Your brother is in despair," said the Queen. " The 
Princess is une vraie bete she answers every question by ( yes/ 
or ( no/ accompanied by a silly laugh, quifait mat au cceur" 

The Princess Charlotte added some traits to this portrait, 
which certainly did no credit to her own delicacy of feeling. 
The Margravine observing her brother colour, and appear as if 
the conversation displeased and wounded him, changed the 
subject. After she had retired to her apartments he came to 
her, and himself broached the subject of his marriage. " As 
regards the Princess," said he, " I do not dislike her so much 
as I pretend to do. I affect to find her intolerable, in order 
that the King may better appreciate my obedience. She is 
pretty, her complexion is of lilies and of roses, and her features 
are delicate ; the general effect of her countenance is that of 
beauty. She has no education, and her carriage is bad, but I 
flatter myself that, when she is here, you will have the good- 
ness to form her a little." 

Yet once again a change had seemed about to come over the 
face of affairs, when the English influence took for a time the 
ascendant at Vienna, and consequent variations began to be 
manifested by the ministerial compass at Berlin, in its set to 
the magnetic pole at the imperial capital. 

Despite the betrothal of the crown Prince and of his sister 
Philippina Charlotte, a new proposition was made for marrying 
the crown Prince to the Princess Amelia of England, and the 
Princess Charlotte to the Prince of Wales ; whilst Prince Charles 
of Brunswick was to receive the Princess Ann of England in- 
stead of the bride before destined for him. 

But Frederic William had pledged his word to his friend the 
Duke of Brunswick, and, firm to his principles of honour, he 
would not yield a tittle in this respect : the preparations for 
the marriage therefore went on, and the day was fixed. The 
King, the Queen, and the crown Prince set off towards the 


dwelling of the bride a few days before that on which the im- 
portant event was to take place. In due time they arrived at 
Salzdahlum, or Salzthal. At that eleventh hour even, Secken- 
dorf was charged to endeavour to shake the King's resolution, 
and stop the marriage ; but the proposal was rejected with in- 
dignation, and Frederic William afterwards reverted more than 
once to the " infamy }} which his friend would have had him 
commit at Salzthal.* The wits of England and Hanover 
found plenty of scope for their satire in this marriage, and 
Frederic William was so enraged at the reports which reached 
him, that he would not allow a formal notification of his son's 
marriage to be sent to London. 

The marriage finally took place on the 12th of June, 1733. 
Frederic is described by his sister to have affected to be in a 
frightful temper, and to have scolded and stormed at his at- 
tendants at least, in his father's presence. Von Hahnke's life 
of Elizabeth Christina gives a detailed account of the ceremony, 
and of the sermon which was preached by Mosheim on the 
occasion ; but I omit the description, in order to return with 
the King and Queen to Berlin. 

The latter, her enforced duty fulfilled, gave full vent to her 
spleen on her return. She told her daughter that, despite the 
efforts of Madame le Katsch, the Princess was more " bete " 
than ever, and that the Prince could not endure her, although 
she allowed that at first sight she might make a pleasing 

The King described her to the Margravine as " a good child, 
but wants forming.-" 

In a few days the subject of so much criticism, herself 
arrived at Berlin, whither Frederick had preceded her. She 
was received very cordially by her father-in-law, but she was 
weary and shy, and heated and disordered by the journey; the 
Margravine of Baireuth, remembering her promise to her 

* "Seckendorf mich aus Leben bringt," said the King. " Inf amie begeben 
machen, die Heirath zu Salzthal abzuandern." "Journal Secret." 


brother to befriend the young stranger, went with her to her 
apartments, where Prince Frederic, in a speech which seems 
to have frightened the poor child into a state of greater 
bewilderment than before, introduced his sister, as one whose 
advice he wished her to follow upon all occasions. The Mar- 
gravine then offered herself to be her tire-woman, and arrange 
the fair, naturally-curling locks which had been all unpowdered 
and dishevelled by the journey. When Frederic saw his bride 
receive all these kind attentions without so much as venturing 
a word of thanks, or the slightest return of his sister's caresses, 
he grew impatient, and exclaimed in most unbridegroom-like 
terms, '* Peste soit de la bete ! Remerciez done ma soeur," 
which unceremonious adjuration produced from the startled girl, 
as near an approach to her dancing-master's last lesson on the 
curtsey, as the state of her nerves would admit at the moment. 
The Margravine describes her at this time as tall, but not 
graceful, with a dazzlingly fair complexion, relieved by a vivid 
colour, large pale blue eyes, without much expression, and 
mignon features, whose worst falling off was a bad set of teeth, 
whilst the " tout ensemble of the face was so charming and so 
infantine, that one might have imagined it to belong to a child 
of twelve years old." And a mere child it indeed was, that 
was thus placed in circumstances which rapidly enough de- 
veloped her into womanhood, and endowed her at the same 
time, like the Undine of her own country's story, with a 
woman's heart, and all a woman's portion of love and sorrow. 
There were not many festivities upon the occasion of the 
entry into Berlin ; Frederic William's favourite German comedy 
was the chief amusement provided, at which the ladies and 
gentlemen stifled their yawns as well as they could, and dared 
not vent their ill-humour at being obliged to attend. There 
was a grand review also, and the party having to start at three 
A.M., there was no time after supper to go to bed before dress- 
ing for it ; when they arrived at the ground, they found a 
dozen tents, each calculated to hold about five persons, pre- 


pared for their accommodation ; and as the company had re- 
quired eighty carriages to bring them, it may be supposed that 
the crowding in these tents was rather dense, and the sun 
being hot and no refreshments provided, the fatigue was 
excessive. Another of the enjoyments on the occasion of the 
marriage of the heir of Prussia, was a procession in open car- 
riages, which only went at a foot-pace; the rain meanwhile 
descended in torrents; and the ladies, thoroughly soaked of 
course, having no accommodation for change of apparel, 
appeared at the subsequent ball with their dresses clinging 
around them in most ludicrous style. The Margravine gives a 
full description of all these most lugubrious festivities. 

The heirs of the Kurbrandenburg family had in former 
times, as part of their apanage, commonly possessed a seat in 
the Mark; Frederic William now revived this custom, by 
bestowing upon his eldest son the estate of Rheinsberg, which 
he had just purchased. Rheinsberg* is not far from the town 
of Riippin. Watered by the little river Rhyn, it rises like a 
green oasis, adorned with shadowy, graceful trees, out of the 
midst of the sterile sands and impoverished vegetation of the 
surrounding country, whilst horses of noble growth, smooth- 
skinned oxen and fine-wooled sheep, mark the richer character 
of the district. Here Frederic found the ruins of a castle, 
whose walls were almost washed by the waters of the Grune- 
rick Lake. He now set himself sedulously to work to repair 
this edifice, and quickly, amidst the beech-woods which encircle 
the lake, arose an enchanted palace, inhabited by a magician 
whose fame was soon to spread through all lands. Into the 
penetralia of this, his chosen abode, none but the sage philo- 
sopher, the gifted poet, or the open-hearted and brilliant com- 
panion, were ever admitted. Here at length, released from 
all restriction, was Frederic free to follow the dictates of 
that refined taste which had cost him so many trials in his 
earlier years, and to indulge in that communion with men of 
* For description see Forster and Preuss. 


talent and of letters, which his mind had always craved. Here, 
too, he re-commenced the formation of a library, the first 
thousand volumes which he had collected having been sold at 
the time of his imprisonment. 

I quote Baron Bielefeld's description of this fairy palace. 
" The situation of the castle is beautiful ; the waters of a 
large lake almost lave its very walls. On the further side of 
this lake, a beautiful wood of oak and beech spreads like an 
amphitheatre. The original castle consisted of the main build- 
ing and one wing, at the end of which stood an old tower ; this 
edifice and its position were well calculated to exhibit the taste 
and genius of the crown Prince, and the talent of Knobelsdorf, 
who is the director of the building. The main edifice has been 
repaired and embellished by means of bay-windows, statues, 
and other ornaments : a corresponding wing with a tower has 
been added at the other end, and these two towers connected 
by means of a row of columns : this erection has given to the 
whole the form of a square. At the entrance is a bridge, orna- 
mented with statues, which serve as lamp-bearers. The en- 
trance to the court is through a fine gate, over which Knobels- 
dorf has placed the inscription, ' Frederico tranquillitatem 
colenti/ The interior of the castle is both splendid and taste- 
ful : there is a profusion of gilding, which, however, has been 
guided by the hand of taste. The Prince prefers soft colours, 
on which account the furniture and hangings are either violet, 
sky-blue, pale green, or flesh colour, ornamented with silver : a 
hall, which will be the masterpiece of the castle is not yet com- 
pleted ; it is to be panelled with marble, and adorned with large 
mirrors framed with gilded bronze. The celebrated Pesne has 
painted the ceiling, which represents the rising of the sun. On 
one side appears retreating night, veiled in a dark mantle, and 
attended by her sorrowful birds and by the Hours ; whilst on 
the other are represented the morning star, in the form of 
Venus, the white horses of the sun chariot, and Apollo flinging 
his first beams. I hold this picture as symbolical, and as point- 


ing to a perhaps not far distant period." * The same author 
goes on to give a description of the then incomplete gardens, 
with the shady alleys leading to the Egyptian obelisk in the 
centre ; the sheltered seats ; the temple of Bacchus, shrouded 
with cypress, ivy and vine ; the pleasure boats for water parties 
on the lake, and all the other means which the Prince had here 
collected for the enjoyment and embellishment of life. But 
what is the description of a dwelling without that of its prin- 
cipal inhabitants ? Let us, therefore, hasten to supply the de- 
ficiency from the plentiful materials which are left us on this 

At the time of which we are speaking, Frederic, crown Prince 
of Prussia, was about twenty-two years of age, and of strikingly- 
prepossessing appearance : he was not tall, but perfectly well 
made, and " rather delicate than slim ;" he wore his own wavy, 
light-brown hair, the severing of whose curls at the stern com- 
mand of his father, had, in his boyhood, cost him so many tears 
that the compassionate hair-dresser had spared this natural orna- 
ment as much as possible. His features, which bore the Hano- 
verian stamp, were good ; but the eyes were the characteristic 
part of the physiognomy; large, soft, blue and melting in their 
ordinary expression, yet they could, at times, flash forth such 
terrible flames as seemed to wither the rash or insolent offender 
who had roused them. The peculiarly-piercing expression of these 
wonderful eyes, which seemed at once to penetrate the character, 
thoughts and wishes of the individual upon whom they were 
bent, has been the subject of frequent remark by those who had 
experienced their power. He was by no means unconscious of his 
own personal advantages, and had no objection to enhance them 
by an elegant and recherchee toilette ; his small delicate hands 
and taper fingers lacked neither jewels, nor lace to set them off; 
and he used in his youth to pride himself on the remark of his 
dancing-master, that he had the smallest foot amongst his pupils. 

* Baron Bielefeld's "Lettres Familieres sur Fred, le Grand et sa Ccur de 


There was then little in the appearance of the delicate and 
somewhat effeminate-looking young man, to indicate the bound- 
less energy and indomitable perseverance of the character that 
lurked under that soft exterior, only gleaming forth at times 
in the sudden wild-fire of the eye which now and then beto- 
kened the unfathomed depths beneath. Few or none had an 
idea of what capabilities were in the man, his father perhaps 
less than any other person ; he used to say, " Fritzchen knows 
nothing at all of affairs ; when all is at sixes and sevens, I shall 
laugh in my grave." 

Before his death, however, an inkling of the talent of his 
son seems, from time to time, to have dawned upon, and filled his 
mind with wondering surprise. Probably at this time Frederic 
did not know the extent of his own powers ; these were the 
halcyon days of his hitherto harassed youth ; his young genius 
was but playfully trying its wings in fluttering over the flowers 
that for the first time strewed its pathway, unconscious of the 
sleeping fires within, which were to rush through all its pulses, 
and bid it, on the first impulse, dart up straightway, like 
a young eagle, to the sun. 

The crown Princess had formed, perhaps, the nearest approxi- 
mation to a correct estimate of her husband's powers; he had 
dawned upon her newly-awakening intellect with all the re- 
splendence of a young god, her expanding mind was filled with 
boundless love and admiration for the man who, whilst he 
awed her, had first awakened thought, feeling, and finally a deep, 
silent, shamefaced and secret idolatry within her bosom. 

Bielefeld's description of Elizabeth Christina in 1738, would 
lead us to imagine that the efforts of Madame de Katsch and 
the dancing-master had been crowned with triumphant success; 
but perhaps we should be nearer the truth, in supposing that the 
love for her husband, which now inspired her whole being, was 
the agent that had taught her to lend to her natural attractions 
the additional charm of elegance and grace, whilst it had ani- 
mated her beauty with the magic of expression. 


" The Princess/' says he, " is of noble stature ; I never saw 
more symmetrical proportions ; her neck, hands and feet, might 
serve as models for a painter; her hair is blond-cendre, and 
shines like pearls when powdered ; her skin is very delicate, and 
she has large blue eyes, which are soft, but yet full of life, 
her glance is expressive. She has an open countenance, beau- 
tiful eyebrows, a little nose, a pleasant mouth, a very pretty 
chin; her whole countenance is expressive of gentleness and 
goodness. All the Graces seem to have united to form this 
Princess. Even the little negligences which one sometimes 
perceives in her dress or posture are happy, and never at the 
expense of good taste. This amiable Princess speaks little, 
especially at table, but what she says is thoughtful and 
womanly; and shows a cultivation which she has formed for 
herself." Perhaps Bielefeld may have been a partial judge, for 
he confesses to have been perfectly enchanted with the beauty 
of the spot, and the charm of the society at Rheinsberg. Hav- 
ing thus given a sketch of the principal inhabitants of that 
place, let us also take a hasty glance at the individuals who 
composed the rest of the social circle there. 

There was the Hofmarschall -Wolden, with his pretty and 
agreeable wife. There was the veteran Senning,* the old 
mathematical tutor of the Prince, whom in his crippled state 
he took home to live with him. Then there was the amiable 
Chazot. And, Knoblesdorf, pensive but talented, who had left 
the army at the call of art. There was the witty and friendly 
Jordan, who, on the death of his wife, unable to bear the 
familiar associations of home, had flung aside his ecclesiastical 
garb, and fled to foreign lands to seek distraction from sad 
thought, and at last, burying his softened grief deep in his 
heart, had returned to be " a favourite with all the Court " at 
Rheinsberg. But, above all, there was the Prince's " Csesarion" f 
Kaiserling, who, clad in robe de chambre, and gun on shoulder, 

* Senning had lost a leg in the wars in Flanders. 

f Csesarion was the name by which Kaiserling was admitted into the ''Order 


" rushes in like a hurricane/* talks a dozen different lan- 
guages in the same conversation, with the same fluency, 
and knows everything better than anybody else, from state 
politics, mathematics, painting, and architecture, down to 
horses, dogs, fashions in dress, and the last new step in the 

Then, beside these and other habitual residents, such as 
Graun, the chapel-master ; * Pesne, the painter ; f Benda, the 
first violinist in Europe; and frequently Quanz, the flute- 
player, and other musical celebrities, brilliant strangers from 
all parts of the world frequently glittered for a time amidst the 
select coterie of " Fredericks Rest." But we must by no means 
omit the ladies who formed so important a part in the attrac- 
tions of this little Court. 

Beside Frau von Wolden, and the high-minded and gentle 
Madame de Katsch, by whom her royal pupil is now " nearly 
idolized on account of that goodness and mildness which in her 
high position seem doubly fair,"J there is Fraulein von 
Schack, who is lively and amiable, but no beauty, though pos- 
sessed of a well-formed hand and a very pretty foot; and 
though it be treachery to the sex, we quote the gallant Baron's 
comment on the opportunities which he had enjoyed of ascer- 
taining the fact : " The ladies know, how to make the most of 
their advantages, and if they had but a pretty Ohrlappchen^ 
they would contrive to show it," and often did Fraulein 
von SchacFs pretty foot peep from beneath the long petticoat 
then the mode. 

Fraulein von Walmoden, the second maid of honour, tall, 
fair-haired, shapely, and handsome, but without much character, 

of Bayard," founded by Frederic and his friends ; he is mentioned frequently by 
that name in the correspondence with Voltaire, whom he visited at Cirey. The 
crown Prince also called him the "swan of Mitau" (his birthplace). 

* The composer of the " Passion." 

t Antoine Pesne, a portrait- painter. The best portrait of Frederic the Great 
is by him. 

Bielefeld. Lobe of the ear. 


does her ornamental part on the stage very well, and occasionally 
inspires a languid flame in the bosom of some inflammable 
courtier, who is more supremely idle than usual. 

Beside the crown Princess's Oberhofmeisterin and maids of 
honour, sundry of the fairest ladies in Berlin (some of whom 
were supposed to possess more than common attractions for the 
crown Prince) were no unfrequent visitors at Rheinsberg. 
Amongst these were the Frau von Morian, who figures as " le 
Tourbillon " in his verses ; Frau von Brandt, who had a greater 
taste for intrigue than was either safe or commendable, and 
who, in furtherance of her foolish and ambitious hopes that 
Prince Henry's boyish penchant for her sister might decoy him 
into a marriage in her family, would have vilely sold her hus- 
band's honour and her own fair fame ; and several other ladies, 
whose visits were of less questionable purport. 

For the occupations and amusements of the life at Rheinsberg 
I must again quote from Baron Bielefeld's*" enthusiastic descrip- 
tion of the way in which he passed his time during his sojourn 

" All who live in the castle," says he, <c enjoy the most uncon- 
strained freedom. The crown Prince and Princess are only 
visible at table, at balls, concerts, or other fetes in which they 
can participate. Time, which, to the thinking man, is so pre- 
cious, yet, to the superficial, seems so long, is not here passed 
in sleeping till a mid-day breakfast; in mollifying angry 
creditors ; in weighty and secret conferences with tailors and 
mantua-makers ; or in the toilette and useless chat in ante-cham- 
bers. Every one thinks, reads, draws, writes, plays an instru- 
ment, amuses or employs himself in his apartment till dinner ; 

* Bielefeld became known to Frederic on the occasion of the latter' s reception 
into the order of Freemasons. He was of the burger class, and was an inhabitant 
of Hamburg. On Frederic's accession he was sent on a diplomatic mission to 
England ; he gives an amusing account of the pleasures of the then fashionable 
gardens of Vauxhall, and speaks with astonishment of the ferocious character of 
the amusements, such as bull and bear-baiting, cock-fighting, &c., to which the 
otherwise humane English nation was then addicted. 

Q 2 


then each one dresses himself well and carefully, but without 
ostentation or expense, and goes to the eating-room. All the 
employments of the crown Prince display the man of taste. 
His conversation at table is inimitable; he speaks much and 
well ; it seems as if no subject were foreign to him ; and his 
remarks on all subjects are novel and original. His wit is like 
the never-failing fire of Vesta.* He tolerates difference of 
opinion, and understands the art of drawing out the brilliancy 
of others, by affording occasion for the utterance of some jeu 
& esprit, or happy thought. He jests and ridicules, yet without 
bitterness, and without taking a witty reply amiss. 

" Do not think the nimbus which surrounds the crown Prince 
has dazzled me. Were he merely a private man, I would will- 
ingly go miles on foot, if I could thereby ensure the pleasure 
of his society. 

" After dinner the gentlemen visit the ladies' apartment, to 
take coffee; all assemble, and chat together pleasantly. The 
Prince and Princess take coffee in their own apartment. 
The evening is dedicated to music; the Prince has a concert 
in his saloon, to which it is a great honour to be invited/' 

We find in the same agreeable author many such descriptions 
of days of intellectual enjoyment and nights of festivity; of 
gay balls, in which the Prince doffed the uniform in which, as 
an officer in his father's army, it was the best policy to appear, 
and arrayed in " pale green silk, richly-embroidered with silver, 
with broad silver Brandenburgs and tassels, and attended by a 
train of cavaliers, similarly but less splendidly attired," joined 
the dancers, and displayed more "lightness and grace" than 
any other gentleman present, whilst a throng of the fairest and 
noblest of the Prussian ladies were emulous of the distinction 
of his hand for the set ; and though all were richly dressed, 
and all looked to their best advantage in the soft warm light of 
the ball-room, "yet the crown Princess appeared the sun of 
all this glittering firmament of stars." 

* This comparison is not altogether appropriate to the subject of Frederic's wit. 


Sometimes, though rarely, scenes of more boisterous gaiety 
took the place of the refined amusements of Rheinsberg. One 
more quotation from Bielefeld, and we must quit the green 
shades and luxurious saloons of this pleasant retreat. 

" I lead a truly ravishing life here. A royal table, godlike 
wines, heavenly music, delicious walks in the gardens and 
woods, water excursions, the magic of art and science, pleasant 
intercourse all in this fairy palace unites to embellish life. 
Yet as nothing on earth is perfect, a drop of sadness mingles in 
my cup. I must prepare you soon to see me in Hamburg with 
a couple of great scars upon my forehead, one eye blue and the 
other extinguished, and a cheek like a rainbow. I have to 
thank an unlucky Bacchusfest for these adornments. About a 
fortnight ago the Prince was unusually cheerful at table, a few 
glasses of champagne had set our wits in motion. The Prince 
thought that this little elevation did us no harm, and said we 
would take up the session again in the evening where we had left 
off at mid-day. Towards evening I was invited to the concert. 
At the conclusion, the Prince told me to go to the Princess till her 
party should be at an end ; after that, said he, ' We will seat 
ourselves at table, and drink till the candles are burnt out/ I 
took the threat for jest, as I knew the Prince was not fond of 
pleasures of this sort ; but when I came to the Princess, she 
laughed, and assured me to the contrary, and was of opinion 
that this time I should not escape my fate. Indeed, scarcely 
had we seated ourselves at supper, when the Prince proposed 
many toasts, all of which it was necessary to pledge. The 
exhilaration increased from moment to moment. The ladies 
took part in it all restraint was at an end. Some of the 
gentlemen went out to breathe the fresh air. I was of the 
number. When I went out I was tolerably steady, but the air 
somewhat clouded my senses. A great glass of water stood 
before me on the table. During my absence, the Princess had 
caused it to be changed for Sillery champagne from which 
the foam had been blown away. I now no longer well knew what 


I drank ; I mixed wine with wine. In order completely to give 
me what was lacking, the Prince called me to seat myself 
beside him, and made me empty one glass of Lunelle after 
another. Every one else was in a similar condition. We 
overwhelmed the ladies with compliments and tenderness. 
At last the crown Princess, either by accident or intention, 
broke a glass. This was the signal for the most extravagant 
delight. The act seemed to us worthy of imitation ; in a 
moment all the glasses flew into every corner of the hall, and 
crystal, porcelain, cups, mirrors, candlesticks and table service 
were broken into a thousand fragments. In the midst of this 
horror of desolation the Prince was the only one who looked 
upon the ruins with a serene, untroubled eye. When, however, 
the jubilation took the form of a perfect tumult, he withdrew 
to his room. The Princess disappeared at the same moment. 
I was so unfortunate as not to find a servant to take compassion 
on my helplessness. As I groped along, I came to the head of 
the great staircase, and fell from the top to the bottom, where 
I remained lying insensible on the lowest step. I should pro- 
bably have died, had not an old female servant proved my 
guardian angel. She came accidentally to the spot, and took 
me in the dark for the great yard-dog. She greeted me with a 
not very complimentary name, and gave me a hearty kick. 
When, however, she discovered that I was a man, and a young 
cavalier of the Court, she opened her heart to milder feelings, 
and ran for help. My people came and carried me to bed and 
fetched a doctor, who opened a vein, bound up my wounds, and 
at last brought me to myself. In the morning they talked of 
trepanning ; but this alarm was unfounded. I was only obliged 
to keep my bed for a fortnight, during which time the Prince 
was so gracious as to visit me daily, and do all he could towards 
my restoration. The next morning after my mishap the whole 
castle was mortally ill. Neither the Prince nor any of his 
gentlemen could make themselves visible, and at dinner the 
Princess found herself at table without a single courtier in 


attendance. This day, which fortunately has few brethren, will 
be long held in remembrance in Kheinsberg." 

For all comment on this scene, let me remind my readers 
that since it took place, in 1738, somewhat more than a hundred 
years have elapsed ; yet that a much shorter periodhas sufficed 
to bring society to a pitch of refinement which looks back upon 
such scenes with amazement, since even England, in the early 
days of the nineteenth century, might furnish episodes not 
altogether dissimilar to the above-described bacchanalian 
festival at the Court of the crown Prince and Princess of 

Seldom, indeed, did similar occurrences break into the 
classic retirement of Prince Frederic at Rheinsberg.* As 
Bielefeld states, his mornings were spent in the solitude of his 
own apartments, generally in his library, which was fitted up in 
one of the above-mentioned towers, the windows of which over- 
looked the garden and the lake ; no one then knew the manner 
in which he occupied these precious hours of quiet, but it was 
afterwards discovered that this was the time wherein he luxu- 
riated in the correspondence which he had commenced with 
Suhm, D'Argens, Wolff, Rollin, and other men of talent 
taste and learning ; but above all with Voltaire. His admira- 
tion for the genius of this author amounted at that time almost 
to deification; Voltaire's portrait hung above his works in 
Frederic's library, that he might always be reminded of him. 

To the practice of the flute, too, he devoted much time, and 
much dry labour to the theoretical study of music ; his execu- 
tion on the above-named instrument was that of a master ; he 
never, it is true, acquired much brilliancy in the fingering of 
rapid passages, and his accompaniment had to humour him in 

* He used generally to date his letters " Remusberg." In a letter to Voltaire, 
dated "Remusberg, April 7th," (1738,) he gives as a reason for this, a tradition 
that Remus, to escape the anger of his brother Romulus, fled towards the northern 
provinces of Germany, and there founded a castle, which, certain investigators 
were of opinion, had formerly occupied the site of Rheinsberg. 


these parts ; but his adagios were so exquisite that they seldom 
failed to draw tears from those of his audience who had a soul 
for music.* 

. I linger perhaps too long over the sunny days of Rheinsberg, 
but this was the happiest period of Elizabeth Christina's life. 
She said herself, " I have never had such happy days as those 
I have spent here/' The man for whom she would have cheer- 
fully sacrificed her life, and did sacrifice her happiness, at least 
now lived with her as his wife.f He treated her with the 
greatest respect and consideration sometimes she might almost 
persuade herself with affection. He openly avowed that he ad- 
mired her person ; " that he must be the most unreasonable of 
men if he did not truly esteem her, for that she was of a re- 
markably gentle temper ;" " that no one could be more docile ; " 
that " she was complaisant to excess, forestalling even his wishes 
in all that could give him pleasure." The idea that, so soon 
as the crown Prince should become king, he would divorce his 
gentle consort, began to lose ground amongst the courtiers : 
Schulenberg,J who was supposed to be in his confidence, did 
nothing but burst into inexhaustible fits of laughter when the 
subject was mentioned to him. The crown Princess's "influ- 
ence'^ began to be talked of. <e She becomes powerful," || says 
Seckendorf, on his return from Vienna. "The Prince loves 
her ;" " he writes to her during short absences ; he has showed 
her letters as specimens of good sense." 

And if in Elizabeth Christina's own heart, there was an 
aching consciousness of the vast distinction that lay between 
this chill almost of affection, and its warm reality, she sedulously 
endeavoured to hide that consciousness from the searching eyes 
of all that were around her. If the bitter tears did rise, when 

* See Bielefeld and others. 

j- The crown Prince and Princess ' ' lived together as man and wife for more 
than ten years." Preitss, "Lebens Geschichte," Von Hahnke. 

Seckendorf. Ibid. 

|| Ibid. II a montre ses lettres a Schulenburg en disant, "Elle a pourtant de 
bon sens." 


her ear failed to catch that tender inflection of her husband's 
voice for which it had been wistfully listening so long, she forced 
them down again to their secret fount within her heart, and co- 
vered the pain by a smile. She shut her eyes wilfully to all that 
went on between the crown Prince and the ladies Von Morian, 
Von Brandt and others, and her ears to the tales that malice 
would have poured into them. At the same time she occupied 
herself in the cultivation of her mind, the storing of which had 
been neglected in her youth ; for, at her father's Court, the 
chief instruction which the young Princes and Princesses re- 
ceived, was derived from listening to the theological discussions 
of certain learned divines, who met there upon fixed days for 
the purpose of such discourse, in which both the parents of 

Elizabeth Christina were interested.* She read with care and 


selection, and reflected with accuracy upon what she read. La 
Croze helped her in her selection and study of the best French 
authors. She read Bayle attentively, because that author was 
a favourite with her husband, and it gave her pleasure to trace 
the ideas which communicated pleasure to him.f When men 
of celebrity visited the Court of Rheinsberg she was an earnest, 
though a silent listener to their discourse. She quietly formed 
her own judgment of their characters, and the instinct of her 
truthful simplicity seldom led her far astray. Her opinions 
of men and things were never intruded, but they existed none 
the less strongly in her own mind, and sometimes found a quiet 
utterance in her moments of social relaxation with Madame de 
Katsch or her sister, when the latter became Princess of 

We find that Elizabeth Christina liked and esteemed Lord 
Baltimore when he visited Berlin in 1739; that she admired 
Algarotti, but did not accord him the esteem with which she 
honoured the Englishman ; but that, despite his talents, which 

* Von Hahnke. 

f It used to be said that the Crown Prince and Princess knew Bayle thoroughly, 
because she studied the parts which had little interest for him, and vice versa. 


she could not but admire, she could not endure Voltaire.* The 
crown Princess also occupied part of her leisure in the use of 
her pencil. We find, in one of Frederic's letters to his father 
at this period, that et My wife is at work on a portrait " for 
" my allergnddigste father ; " and again we have allusions to 
the progress of the portrait. 

Nor was Elizabeth Christina by any means destitute of loving 
hearts to appreciate her trials and her efforts ; her own family 
were warmly attached to her, and her father writes to her that 
her " conduct is angelic. 1 " With her father-in-law also, she 
was high in favour, although it was a great disappointment to 
him that Fritz should have no heir j she was the mediatrix upon 
whom Frederic relied in the little misunderstandings which 
sometimes still arose between him and his father. A constant 
correspondence was now carried on between Rheinsberg and 
Postdam, Wusterhausen or Berlin, according to the King's 
existing place of residence, both by the crown Prince and the 
Princess. Frequent presents of delicacies from the Prince's 
garden or kitchen at Rheinsberg were most graciously accepted 
by his Majesty. A pasty, or even a fat calf, some Muskat- 
wine, some grapes or melons, some plover's eggs, some lobsters, 
oysters, or other sea-fish, (for, though Frederic William was 
fond of such dainties, he could seldom induce himself to be 
extravagant enough to indulge in them at his own expense,) 
not unfrequently brought an addition to the usual letter of 
acknowledgment in the King's own handwriting, such as the 

* "My Lord Baltimore is an estimable man ; he has my approbation. Madame 
de Wolden has made a conquest of him. Algarotti is very amusing, and has much 
knowledge, but what does not please me, is, that he has no religion, and ridicules 
all that relates to it ; he has not my approbation so much as my lord." Letter of 
Eliz. Christina to her brother Prince Ferdinand. 

Denina says Voltaire disgusted her by his "mechancetes" and his "vilainies," 
as much as he charmed her by his talents. See Von Hahnke's " Leben der 
Kb'nigino Eliz. Christ." 

Nevertheless, when he read his tragedies before the two Queens, during his first 
visit to Berlin in 1740, both ladies paid the tribute of their tears to the pathos of 
his verse. 


following:: "Ich danke, werde seine Gesundheit trinken." * 
In return, the Prince acknowledges presents of pheasants, par- 
tridges and swans from his father. In 1735 he says, " My wife 
is much pleased with the beautiful present (a snuff-box) which 
my most gracious father has sent her/' 

In the autumn of that year, a great family misfortune befell 
Elizabeth Christina, in the death of her father. She was at 
Berlin at the time, and Frederic knowing the trial which the 
loss would prove to her, and doubtless, knowing also that con- 
solation from his lips would possess more of balm for her grief 
than from those of any other person, writes to the King from 
Riippin, 7th Sept., 1735. " I have received the sad intelligence 
of the death of my father-in-law; I believe my wife will be 
much distressed at it; would my most gracious father allow 
me to come to Berlin to comfort her ?" 

We have already commented upon the principal public events 
which took place between the marriage of Frederic and the 
death of his father, it is needless therefore to revert to them 
here. The good understanding which had began to subsist 
between the King and his successor, amounted, towards the 
close of the former's life, to a feeling of sincere cordiality, oc- 
casionally ruffled a little, it is true, by the King's constitutional 
tendency to suspicion. Yet the real affection and distress 
manifested by the crown Prince during the dreadful illness 
from which Frederic William suffered, as has been stated, on his 
return from the campaign on the Rhine, in 1 734, did much 
towards a perfect reconciliation. Seckendorf writes on this occa- 
sion f " The Prince Royal is truly touched by the situation of 
the King, has his eyes always full of water, and has wept his 
eyes out of his head ; has refined to contrive a comfortable bed 
for the King ; will not leave Potsdam ; the King has forced 
him to do so ; may not come again before Saturday afternoon ; 

* I thank him, will drink his health. 

f 1 4th Oct. Le Prince Royal est veritablement attendri par la situation du roi : 
hat die Augen immer voll Wasser, und hat die Augen ganz aus dem Kopf ge- 


says I would give an arm to prolong the King's life twenty 
years, if he would let me live according to my fancy." 

Surely there was but little of the heartlessness with which so 
many writers have charged Frederic, in the man who "weeps 
his eyes out of his head" at witnessing the sufferings of the 
sick father whom he is to succeed, and who employs his great 
intellect in " refining," to provide him such a bed as may 
relieve those sufferings ? 

After Frederic William's recovery from this attack, he visited 
the crown Prince and Princess at Rheinsberg; he was enter- 
tained with great ceremony, and before taking leave he ex- 
pressed to his daughter-in-law his gracious satisfaction both with 
his hosts and entertainment, though a somewhat disagreeable 
idea of the " expense" of his son's luxurious little abode does 
seem to have crossed his mind ; but Fritzchen's regiment was 
in first-rate order, and splendidly disciplined and accoutred ; 
and when, rather with the hope of catching the Prince's dili- 
gence napping in this respect, the King set off in the middle 
of the night to be at Riippin by daybreak, whom should 
he behold, on entering the parade-ground prepared to find no 
one stirring, but Fritzchen himself, exercising his very finest 
soldiers in the very finest style. It is rumoured that a friendly 
hand had forewarned him of the intended visit ; nevertheless, 
this incident warmed Frederic William's heart towards his son, 
perhaps still more than the latter's tenderness during his 
illness; he even began to think of allowing him an extra 
supply for his expenditure, and not before it was wanted did 
this reinforcement arrive, for the enlistment of tall recruits, &c. 
had terribly exhausted Frederic's purse, and he was in great 
perplexity for money; he confessed to Manteufel, who then 

weint, hat raffinirt, um dem Konig ein commodes Belt zu schaffen ; hat von 
Potsdam nicht weggehen wollen ; le roi 1'y a force : soil erst Sonnabends Nach- 
mittag wieder kommen ; dit, " Je donnerai un bras pour faire prolonger sa vie de 
vingt ans, pourvu que le roi me fasse vivre a ma fantaisie." Seckendorfs 
"Journal Secret." 


enjoyed a good deal of his confidence and betrayed it, 
that he sometimes had not a crown in his pocket ; that 
he was obliged to spend as much as fifty thousand crowns 
a year in presents to the King's immediate servants, to 
secure their good offices with his father. " If I die," said 
he, "those who survive me must pay my debts, which will 
make them weep in good earnest."* In the year 1736 a 
misunderstanding with the King seems to have arisen on this 
account, for Seckendorf writes that ' Junior ' f " a le coeur 
ulcere contre le Roi." Frederic's health also was at this time 
in a very precarious state; the same author says, "Biberius 
(Grumbkow) does not think Junior will survive Vitellius (the 
King), but that pessimus Wilhelmus (Prince William) will suc- 
ceed some day." The terrible headaches, accompanied by 
vomiting, from which he suffered at that time, appear to have 
given serious grounds for the idea, and the Prince began him- 
self to think that there might be some truth in the prophecy 
concerning Frederic William's successor contained in the 
" Vaticinium leninense." J He appears also to have had severa 
attacks of intermittent fever, at intervals, during the ensuing 

But despite any slight occasional differences between the 
King and the crown Prince, a considerable amount of real 
confidence, esteem and affection seems by degrees to have 
grown up, and always, henceforward, to have subsisted un- 
shaken between the father and son, until the death of the 
former. It is pleasant to trace the gradual increase of these 
mutual sentiments in their intercourse. As Frederic's judg- 
ment matured, the salutary results of his father's really wise 
measures and administration, filled him with respect for the 
man whom he had, naturally, hitherto regarded as little bette 

* Seckendorf. 

f The Crown Prince's soubriquet in Seckendorf s "Journal Secret." 
J A Latin doggrel, composed by a monk named Hermann, of Lenyn, containing 
a sort of prophetic history of the kings of Prussia. 


than an arbitrary tyrant. Speaking of his father, he thus 
writes to a friend, " All that I see praiseworthy (in him) fills 
me with an inward delight which I can scarcely conceal ; I feel 
the emotions of filial love doubled within me, when I observe 
such wise, such true views in the author of my existence." 
Frederic William likewise, on his side, began to conceive, that 
possibly the science and philosophy for which his son, who, he 
had discovered, was certainly no fool, had such a reverence, 
might deserve a little more consideration than he had hitherto 
bestowed upon them ; he spoke approvingly of their cultiva- 
tion, and even, a crowning mark of his respect for his son's 
opinion, began to study Wolff himself ! " The crown Prince 
writes upon this occasion : " The novelties of the day are, 
that the King read's Wolff's philosophy for three hours daily ; 
wherefore God be praised ! We have indeed arrived at a 
triumph of wisdom.* 

Towards the end of 1739, the King's shattered health once 
more entirely gave way ; his complaint, water on the chest, 
gained ground rapidly ; he rallied again in the beginning of 
the year 1740, but it was only for a time. The crown Prince, 
had offended him involuntarily, and was in a sort of disgrace at 
Rheinsberg. On the 26th of May, he was sent for by the 
Queen, who added to her message however, the injunction, 
that he should appear to have come from a mere impulse of 
affection, and not with the idea of finding his father worse. 
The Prince started in all haste ; but, contrary to expectation, 
his father was slightly better on his arrival. He had ordered 
Bielefeld to remain at Rheinsberg, to attend the Princess during 
his absence, and, consequently, we have his description of the 
anxiety and suspense which prevailed there, during the time 
which elapsed before the King's death ; for it was known that 
he could not survive, and that his end was hourly expected. 
The rumble of every waggon that passed over the wooden 
bridge leading from the high road, was construed into the 
* Kiigler, " Q-eschichte Fried, des Grossen." 


rattle of the wheels of a carriage, every ox or ass seen in the 
distance was ennobled into the horse of the Prince's courier, 
and a general rush was made to the windows. 

The crown Princess was the only person who preserved a 
constant equanimity, or " at least the external appearance of it" 
" Five intolerable days passed in this manner, we thought a new 
Joshua had made the sun stand still. On the evening of Friday 
the 31st, we were all sitting together at cards, when the first 
gentleman of the chamber entered, with a great letter sealed 
with black : we thought that the King was certainly dead, and 
all threw down our cards, the game was now despised. Brand 
rose, took his hat, and said, " I am the first to call the Princess 
Queen, and I will pronounce the word ' Majesty 3 with becoming 
unction. We slowly approached the open door of the cabinet 
where the Princess was also engaged at cards. She was reading 
her letter, but looked up immediately on our entrance, and 
asked, surprised, why we had left our game ? We stood ashamed ; 
she smiled at our perplexity. At supper we joked together, 
and congratulated ourselves that the King did not know our 
sensations ; finally we all became very cheerful, and the Prin- 
cess also, till she rose towards midnight, and every one retired 
to his room." 

About two o' clock the Baron was roused by Knobelsdorf, who 
came to say that the King was dead. He expressed some in- 
credulity, but Knobelsdorf assured him " that there was no mis- 
take this time, for Wylich had come to bring the Princess a 
message, and that Jordan* had received his orders to embalm the 
King, and you know that no one who comes under his hands 
returns to life again." When a light was brought Bielefeld 
jumped out of bed, and began picking up some small change 
which his friend had knocked off the table in the dark. " Don't 
stay there picking up halfpence/' said Knobelsdorf, " when 
ducats will soon shower upon us." On entering the Princess's 
ante-room, Bielefeld found Baron Wylich surrounded by the 
* The royal embalmer. 


Princess's ladies, and recounting to them the last scenes of the 
King's life. He had brought directions for the new Queen to 
follow her husband to Berlin, whither he was going immediately. 
There was a discussion which of the ladies should rouse Eliza- 
beth Christina from her slumbers, to inform her of her new ac- 
cession of dignity ; at length Madame de Katsch commissioned 
the Demoiselle von Bortefeld, the first lady of the bedchamber, 
to do so. " She stepped into the chamber of the sleeping 
Queen, and softly undrew the curtains ; the Princess asked what 
was the cause of the disturbance. " Forgive me, your Majesty,^ 

that I come so early, but }> " Why do you call me ' your 

Majesty ?' are you dreaming ?" " No, your Majesty ; but Baron 
Wylich is come with intelligence of the King's death." Madame 
von Katsch then entered, and presented a sedative draught, 
whilst she greeted the new Queen by her title. In about half- 
an-hour the Queen appeared in a black and white dressing- 
gown; I thought I had never seen her look so beautiful before; 
we all tendered her our short, but hearty congratulations." It 
was agreed that the young Queen and her attendants should not 
set off for Berlin till after breakfast, as it was necessary to send 
intelligence on before, eighty horses being required at every 
station, and these relays being difficult to obtain owing to the 
scarcity of the preceding winter, which had impoverished the 
peasants who furnished them. At that breakfast " the cook 
surpassed himself." Madame de Katsch told Bielefeld to pro- 
pose the health of the new Queen, but his feelings overcame 
him, and he could "only stammer a few words" of congratula- 
tion to the young mistress on whom he looked with so much re- 
spectful attachment ; the Queen, too, was moved, and assured 
her kindly attendants of her continued friendship. 

The King had taken up his residence unexpectedly at Char- 
lottenburg. When Bielefeld saw him he appeared to be in a 
very depressed state. He replied to the Baron's congratula- 
tions by saying, " You do not know what I have lost in my 
father." Bielefeld replied that the gain of a kingdom might 


make up for heavy losses. Frederic smiled faintly, but did not 

And now on every tongue trembled the unuttered question 
Would King Frederic divorce his young Queen ? He had 
avowed that his marriage was the price of his freedom. Now 
that he was his own master,, would he not hasten to dissolve it ? 
This question was soon set at rest. On the first public day he 
presented Elizabeth Christina to the assembled Court with the 
words, "I present you your Queen." Some accounts relate 
that he embraced and kissed her very tenderly on this occasion ; 
and a letter has been published as having been sent by him to 
his wife, stating that he had indeed married her compulsorily, 
but that her character and conduct had won his affection and 
esteem, and that he called upon her with joy to share his king- 
dom. However this might be, Elizabeth Christina was now 
formally recognised as Queen of Prussia ; but, alas ! she saw 
herself at the same time divested of the only realm she coveted, 
that of the heart of her husband, whilst before her lay the 
blank and dreary prospect of a widowed life and an empty title. 

There was a general feeling of disappointment on the accession 
of Frederic; he did not do anything that any one expected 
of him : his friends expected to be rained on by a golden shower 
and very moderate appointments marked his sense of their 
merits and services ; his enemies expected disgrace and resent- 
ment and he behaved as if he had no enemies ; the covetous 
expected to extort office and riches from his inexperience and 
they were rebuffed with a polished but cutting rebuke ; his 
mother thought to rule and he sported, gently indeed, but 
unmistakably, with her ambition. Every one had some charge 
against him : he was " avaricious," he was te ungrateful," " sus- 
picious," " revengeful," " capricious," &c. &c. ; the Queen 
was required to employ her gentle arts as peacemaker in the 
family and Court. 

The most incomprehensible part of Fredericks conduct, how- 
ever, was his behaviour towards those persons who had befriended 


him during his imprisonment, and who had even suffered on his 
account. The Von Wrechs were in a kind of disgrace during 
the whole of his reign, and the debt he had contracted to them 
while at Kiistrin remained unliquidated after his accession. 
Doris Hitter, too, was allowed to remain in obscurity. Histo- 
rians have endeavoured to account for this mystery in various 
ways; some have apologised for Frederic's apparent ingratitude 
by alleging that his strict adherence to the laws of his country 
caused him to repudiate, as king, the debts which he had ille- 
gally contracted as crown Prince.* But this is villainous sophistry 
to excuse the non-payment of a debt ; and as yet, at least, he 
had not wholly sacrificed principle to interest and ambition, nor 
offered up his human heart at the shrine of deified reason and 

In Frederic's character there were elements, apparent enough 
in his youth, which, had they only been duly wrought out in his 
education, might have led to a far truer greatness than that 
which he attained. But his father had no mental gauge by 
which to appreciate his son's qualities ; and his tyrannical 
injustice, though endured with a degree of filial forbearance 
that is astonishing and admirable, threw the young man back 
on himself, and fostered his inherent selfishness until it became 
a dominant passion. t His favourite tutor Duhan, also, who 
had most influence over him, was unfortunately lax in his 
Christianity ; Frederic's matured intellect, great as it was in 
some respects, was all insufficient by its own unaided " search- 
ing to find out God/' and therefore, instead of becoming the 
noble Christian man and hero that he might have been, he 
contented himself with being the paltry attempt at a heathen phi- 

* His father had made a law at, or, about the time of his son's arrest, to pro- 
hibit the lending of money to any of the Princes Royal, and to declare null all 
debts already so contracted. 

f* A striking change was noticed even in his appearance, after Katt's execution ; 
his nature seemed to become harder all at once. Hille wrote to Grumbkow, 
"June 5th, 1731. Your Excellency will find him greatly altered ; his step is 
firm and easy. I no longer remark that air de marquis which was formerly 
apparent in his manner." 


losopher which he really was a character whose pitiful mean- 
ness provokes our disgust, almost at the very moment when its 
greatness is exciting our admiration. 

The motive, then, of his strange conduct towards some of 
those persons who had formerly been his friends, never has 
been, and probably never will be, satisfactorily explained. There 
had been an intrigue between him and the young Fran von 
Wrech. Possibly the judgment of his riper years may have 
questioned the views of the family in not discouraging his 
advances to her. Nevertheless, even in this case, the injustice 
of leaving undischarged a debt so contracted, and which cer- 
tainly should have been binding upon a man of honour, must 
still rest upon Frederic's memory. 

He seemed, indeed, after his accession, to wish to bury this 
portion of his existence altogether in oblivion. General Spaen, 
one of the tall guards who had been in his confidence in 1730, 
and had undergone cassation and arrest in consequence, enter- 
tained Frederic the Great at his house in 1763. The King was 
very gracious, and reverted to the associations of his youth, but 
never once mentioned the occurrence of that unhappy period 
when they had last met. Spaen said in reference to this 
" The King had an excellent memory up to the year ] 730." 
There were some few exceptions to his conduct towards those 
friends of his youth who had been connected with the circum- 
stances of his disgrace. Keith, who had taken refuge in Eng- 
land, and been employed on foreign military service by that 
Power, in order to evade the demand of the King of Prussia 
for his surrender, was recalled on Fredericks succession, and 
appointed to the office of Stallmeister. Duhan, too, was treated 
with unvarying affection and respect. 

But to return to the course of events under the new adminis- 
tration. The news of the death of the Emperor Charles VI. 
reached Berlin on the 26th of October.* The King was at 

* The year 1740 was marked by the death of three sovereigns, viz. Frederic 
William of Prussia, Charles YI. of Austria, and Anne of Russia. 

R 2 


Rheinsberg at the time, suffering from an attack of intermit- 
tent fever. But despite the debilitating effects of illness, he 
formed a rapid and masterly plan of operations, and proceeded 
to act upon it without delay. 

Amongst the alleged causes by which Frederic II. was 
actuated in the undertaking he commenced on the death of the 
Emperor, the following were the principal : 

Allusions have frequently been made in the course of the pre- 
ceding narrative, to the succession of Juliers and Berg, which 
was contested, in 1609, by the Elector, John Sigismund, and 
the Pfalzgraf of Neuburg, and finally fell to the share of the 
latter. The claim of the house of Brandenburg to this inherit- 
ance was again asserted by Frederic William I. on the ultimate 
succession again becoming open by the failure of direct heirs 
to the last Pfalzgraf. The Emperor had lured him into giving 
his assent to the Pragmatic Sanction in 1726, by holding 
this tempting bait before his eyes, and despite his faithful ad- 
herence to the imperial cause, he had felt the non-fulfilment 
of this promise a sore grievance; and when, alarmed at the 
triumphs of the French in the commencement of the war 
of the succession of Poland, the Emperor hastily made peace 
with France without reference to Prussia, Frederic William's 
wrath waxed hot against the imperial ingratitude, and point- 
ing to his successor, he exclaimed "There stands one who 
will avenge me." Thus, as Manteufel remarked, the King 
of Prussia, like King David, forgave all his enemies before 
his death, on condition that his son should punish them 
after it.* 

But this was not the only grievance urged by Prussia 
against Austria. Several principalities in the province of 
Silesia had, from time to time, devolved by collateral succession 
upon the Electors of Brandenburg, and the Emperors of Aus- 

* Seckendorfs "Journal Secret." Le diable (Manteufel) dit que le Roi de 
Prusse ressemble au Roi David, lequel, etant sur le lit de mort, dit, ' ' Je pardonne 
a tous mes ennemis, esperant que mon fils les chatiera." 


tria bad as often found pretexts for avoiding their investiture 
into these estates. 

Being in need of the services of the great Elector, the 
Emperor then reigning, offered him the Circle of Schwiebus as 
a quasi equivalent for the Principalities which were claimed by 
him; his son Frederic III. had been induced to restore this 
domain, by a privately-contracted treaty, on condition of re- 
ceiving the imperial support. Conceiving himself afterwards 
to have been overreached, although he did not reclaim the pos- 
session, he left the affair as a hereditary injury, to be redressed 
by his posterity.* 

Certainly, Fredericks was not a mind upon which hereditary 
bequests of vengeance were likely to be particularly binding, 
but he by no means disdained to make use of them as a handle. 
When, therefore, the news of the Emperor's death reached him, 
his plan was clearly and instantly developed in his mind ; pro- 
bably its outlines had existed there long before. It was a 
moment in which, the succession having devolved upon a 
young and inexperienced woman, whose husband " deserved 
the praise of amiable qualities, rather than of commanding 
talents, f a rapid swoop would put him at once in possession, 
not only of redress for his father's and grandfather's grievances, 
but what was far more to the purpose, of a valuable acquisition 
of territory. The chivalry of his attack upon the dominions of 
the young Empress Queen, who was altogether unsuspicious of 
aggression on the part of Prussia, her father's tried ally, who 
had expressly sanctioned her right to ascend the throne, is 
altogether another question. It was the move of a masterly 
and energetic mind, but not of a noble or magnanimous 

Both friends and destined enemies were long uncertain as to 
what aim Frederic's rapid preparations for war might tend. 
The lands of Juliers and Berg seemed the most tangible 

* Kugler's ' ' Greschichte Fried, des Grossen." 
*f- Mahon's England. 


object of attack, but an attempt on the garrisoned district of 
the Rhine would have been too rash. M. Botta, the imperial 
envoy, when a tendency to an accumulation of troops on the 
Silesian frontier became manifest, threw out, as a sort of feeler, 
the remark, that the roads in that district of the empire were 
in a frightful state, and Frederic drily replied, "then one 
would bemire oneself in traversing them." When his object 
did become apparent, the pretensions of the " Elector of 
Brandenburg" were considered too absurd to meet with any- 
thing but ridicule at Vienna. 

On the 13th of December, 1740, there was a grand masked 
ball at the castle at Berlin; the two Queens were present, 
and so was the King; the masks hid many an anxious face 
that night. Frederic left the room unremarked amongst 
the crowd, and with the sounds of music and revelry accom- 
panying his departure, took leave of Berlin on his first cam- 

There was no hostile army to encounter on his march, the 
Protestant inhabitants of Silesia gladly hailed the appearance 
of a Protestant monarch ; the towns, with few exceptions, 
joyfully opened their gates ; at Griineberg, the first town of 
note to which the Prussians came, the scene of their admission 
was a perfect comedy.* At Breslau they were received with 
acclamation and festivity; Frederic himself opened a grand 
ball with one of the principal ladies of the place, two days 
after his entry. All the female part of the population espoused 
the cause of the gallant young King and his magnificent 
army, with enthusiasm ; marriages and love affairs were the 
order of the day. Bielefeld relates, that one day, as he was 
standing at the door conversing with his banker, a young and 

very pretty woman passed, weeping bitterly. Herr D -, who 

knew her, inquired the cause of her grief : after a little coy hesi- 

* The commanding officer shut the gates, and told Frederic's officer that he de- 
clined to give him the keys ; "but," said he, "there they lie upon the table : if 
you take them, it is a different affair 1" 


tation she replied, " I am married to a fusilier of the Munch au 
regiment, and if I had only waited a week longer I might have 
had a guard of six feet two ! " 

Place after place submitted in like manner; from Ottrna- 
chau Frederick writes to his friend Jordan, in exuberant 
spirits at his rapid success. " My dear Herr Jordan, my 
sweet Herr Jordan, my good my mild my peace-loving my 
all-affable Herr Jordan, I inform thy serenity that Silesia is 
as good as conquered/' 

Meantime a lively correspondence was maintained between 
him and his Queen; few days passed without a despatch from 
head-quarters, and the subjects treated of at this time appear 
to have been of considerable importance. The Queen's brother, 
Anthony Ulric, was married to Anne of Mecklenburg, the 
niece of the Empress, Anne of Russia, and their young son 
Iwan, was proclaimed Emperor under the regency of his father, 
upon the Empress's death. Frederic was desirous of securing 
the Russian alliance, and he made use of his wife's mediation 
with her brother for this purpose. In a letter dated Ottma- 
chau, 12th Jan. 174], he thanks her for the " manner and the 
matter of the letter to her brother Anton," which he had begged 
her to write ; he concludes his letter with the words, " God 
give you health and prosperity, I hope soon again to see you 
in good health, and to reiterate the assurances of the perfect 
tenderness with which I am/' &c. &c. On the 21st of the same 
month he writes " You give me great pleasure by marking 
the manner in which you have written to the Duke Anthony; I 
begin already to feel the effects of his friendship, and I doubt 
not that things will go as well as possible if you will take the 
trouble to cultivate these good dispositions. Our affairs 
prosper here. I have finished the campaign, and now the 
only question is about winter quarters. I expect to be in 
Berlin about the 5th or 6th of February, when I hope to have 
the pleasure of embracing you wholly yours, Frederic." 
Even before that time, however, Frederic was again in his 


capital, the object of his rapid movement, for the moment, 
effectually obtained. 

The news of this unheard-of undertaking was received with 
astonishment, mingled with indignation, by the Courts both of 
Vienna and London. Even the Pope was dismayed by the in- 
telligence of so many of the orthodox creed having fallen into 
the hands of a heretic ; Fredericks edicts of toleration, however, 
quieted the alarm of the holy see. Graf Gotter's negotiation 
having failed in inducing Frederic to give up his newly- 
acquired territory, the Austrian army, towards the end of 
February, advanced upon Silesia. That of the Prussian 
monarch prepared for the approaching contest. For a moment 
the fate of Silesia and the young fame of Frederic seemed 
trembling in the doubtful balance, at the battle of Mollwitz. 
The hero of so many fields of desperate fight fled like a very 
coward from his first, and received, as a defeated fugitive, the 
news of a victory gained by his general, not by himself. The 
attack of the French and Bavarian army now obliged the young 
Empress Queen to listen to overtures of accommodation. Un- 
willingly, indignantly enough, indeed, was the cession of Silesia 
agreed to, but agreed to it was; and Frederic received the 
homage of the Princes and Stande of the Duchy of Silesia at 
Breslau, on the 4th of November of the same year. The old 
imperial throne was used for the ceremony, and like a ludicrous 
caricature of the facility with which, from, an Austrian, Silesia 
became a Prussian province, the double imperial eagle em- 
broidered upon it speedily became the ensign of the Prussian 
royalty, by the amputation of one of its heads ! 

The coronation of the Duke of Bavaria as Charles VII. Em- 
peror of Germany, took place in the beginning of the next 
year. The position of the young Empress Queen raised a deep 
feeling of sympathy in every manly bosom amongst her sub- 
jects; that deep-hearted shout of her Hungarian liegemen, 
" Moriamur pro rege nostro Maria Theresa " went thrilling 
through the land. Part of the French Bavarian army was 


driven from Austria. Frederic began to fear Maria Theresa 
was becoming too powerful ; he took the field again in conjunc- 
tion with Saxony, whose sluggish monarch his superior energy 
had forced into unwilling action. 

During the April encampment at Chrudim, letters of high 
importance were again constantly passing between Frederic and 
his Queen ; hints of a plot for his assassination had excited in 
her mind a fearful amount of anxiety respecting his safety ; 
she wrote to apprize him of her fears, and of the cause of 
them ; he seems to have thought the affair not devoid of foun- 
dation, but begs her in his reply, dated 21st April, Chrudim, 
" to keep the thing secret until it be apropos for me to bring it 
to light." Again, in relation to the same subject, he writes to 
her from the camp of Brezezi, 25th May, 1742, " II faut vous 
aimer lorsqu'on vous connait, et la bonte de votre coeur merite 
qu'on Pestime." " I am infinitely obliged to you for the pains 
you take to fathom the truth of the intelligence that has been 
reported to you ; but you may be free from anxiety, the Aus- 
trians are so beaten and discouraged, that they certainly think 
of anything rather than assassinations and conspiracies." This 
letter was written shortly after the battle of Czaslau or Chotu- 
sitz, which led to the triumphant peace of Breslau. From the 
camp at Kuttenberg he writes again on the 22nd of June, to 
announce to her the conclusion of peace which was proclaimed 
on the 30th of the same month. Yet one more letter informs 
her that she is soon to have the satisfaction of greeting her hero 
unharmed from the field of his fame; and deeper and more 
solemn even, than the feelings of thankfulness with which 
she had listened to the grand, jubilant swell of the Te Deum, 
after the battle of Mollwitz, were the thanksgivings now 
offered up by Elizabeth Christina at the footstool of the God of 

Frederic's reception at Berlin on the 12th of July was an 
occasion of the most sincere rejoicing. The inhabitants of 
Berlin thronged out of the city to meet their young monarch. 


The delight of the Queen Mother was loud and exultant ; that 
of the Queen regnant, deep, tremulous and silent. The King 
was in high spirits ; gay scenes and happy faces met the eye on 
every side ; it was a moment of common and heartfelt gladness 
both for Prince and people. 

The marriage of Fredericks brother, Prince William, with 
the sister of Elizabeth Christina, was the cause not only of 
much festivity at Court, but also of very great pleasure to the 
young Queen, since it would place in her immediate proximity 
a sister, between whom and herself there existed the warmest 
affection. The Princess Louisa Amelia was not so handsome 
as the Queen, but she was distinguished by an amiability of 
character and a degree of good sense, which gained her the 
sincere esteem of all who knew her, especially that of her 
brother-in-law the King. 

At this wedding Baron Bielefeld was deputed by Frederic to 
compose and deliver a speech upon the comic investiture of 
the bride with the " Straw Crown." Nervous as he was at this 
essay in public speaking before so distinguished an audience, 
Bielefeld nevertheless acquitted himself with eclat. He gives us 
a description of all the prominent parties at the subsequent ball, 
and of their dress. The King, in silver' cloth and epaulettes, 
looked " youthful and handsome ;" but the Queen, who was 
attired in green velvet, with bouquets of brilliants enriching the 
train, brilliant-pins fastening her hair, and one large diamond, 
like a star, on her forehead, was the figure which most captivated 
his attention, and he somewhat tritely describes her toilette as 
having been arranged by " all the handmaid graces." 

But the days of Elizabeth Christina's happiness had flown 
swiftly by in the old times of Rheinsberg. A letter written to 
her favourite brother Ferdinand, whilst the title of " Queen " 
yet sounded strange to her ear, speaks of intrigues which dis- 
turbed her peace ; and every year as it passed was marked by 
more and more estrangement on the part of her husband. 
Nevertheless, in the year 1744, he celebrated, in her apartments, 


the birthday of the Princess of Prussia, (Prince William had 
taken the title of Prince of Prussia since his brother had given 
up all hopes of an heir,) and this, says his Queen, in her con- 
fidential correspondence with the same brother, caused great 
jealousy in other parts of the family. 

In the month of July, the same year, Frederic cemented his 
alliance with Sweden by the marriage of his fair sister Ulrica 
with the heir to the crown of that country. Prince William 
acted as the representative of the Swedish Prince upon this 
occasion. The Princess Ulrica, covered with Swedish diamonds,* 
was a very fair as well as a glittering bride, and the King, in 
gallant array of blue and silver, gave her away. The royal 
family delayed the departure of this cherished member as long 
as possible. Fete upon fete was given ; but the inevitable day 
of separation at last arrived. There was an opera that night, 
which the King had arranged, to distract in some degree the 
grief of parting. The Princess in her travelling dress, " fair as 
the wakening day," f was present, with her mother and the other 
members of her family ; when, in the midst of the second act, 
her young brother, Prince Ferdinand, threw his arms round her 
neck, exclaiming, " Oh, my dear Ulrica, I shall never see you 
any more ! " she clasped the boy to her bosom, and burst into 
a passion of tears, whilst the uncontrollable sobs of the rest of 
the party broke sadly upon the music of the piece, and called 
forth answering emotions in the hearts of most of the spectators. 

At the moment of parting, when his sister sank half-fainting 
in Frederic's arms, the tears gushed from his eyes, and he 
turned away with a heavy heart as she was placed in the 
carriage. What a change had come over the brother and sister 
before they met again in the same place, both advanced in 
years, and he scheming to prevent her staying too long at the 
home of her youth ! 

* Bielefeld. The collective value of the diamonds worn by the bride and the 
two Queens on this occasion, was estimated at 8,000,000 Thalers. Von HahnJce. 
f Bielefeld. 


The advantages gained by Maria Theresa over the Emperor 
Charles VII., having induced the King of Prussia to ally him- 
s elf with France in defence of that Prince,, shortly after the mar- 
riage of the Princess Ulrica. Frederic once more took the field. 
The news of the birth of an heir to the Prince of Prussia, which 
reached him in camp at Tabor, greatly rejoiced him. Prince 
Ferdinand of Brunswick wrote to his sister, the Queen, " that 
the joy and satisfaction of the master was visible in his face " 
when he heard of it. At the close of an unsuccessful campaign 
he placed his army in winter-quarters and returned to Berlin. 
The alliance concluded by England, Austria, Holland and 
Saxony, at the commencement of the next year, 1745; the death 
of the Emperor Charles, the cession of his claims by his heir, 
and the more than doubtful character of the friendship of France, 
placed Prussia in a somewhat critical position, but she had a 
dauntless pilot at the helm. Frederic knew that he had made 
a bitter enemy of Maria Theresa; neither was the purport 
of that famous passage in George the Second's letter to her 
" Madam, that which is good to take is also good to restore," 
lost upon him. He bent all his energies to the task which lay 
before him ; the great silver lustres of the apartments so mas- 
sively furnished by Frederick William were melted to furnish 
money, and all other needful preparations rapidly made. On 
the 15th of March, 1745, Frederic once more left the capital to 
try the doubtful chances of war. 

Before the commencement of actual operations in the ensuing 
campaign, the King paid a short visit to his capital ; the Queen 
Mother, the Princess Amelia, his three brothers, and the Prin- 
cess of Prussia, were invited to visit him at Rheinsberg. The 
Queen regnant alone was excluded from the family party, and 
bitterly did she feel this exclusion. This was the first very 
marked instance of neglect which she had met with from her 
husband ; in after years she was doomed to suffer from many 
such instances. She writes to Prince Ferdinand, " I shall be 
left all alone here in the old castle, like a true prisoner, whilst 


the others are enjoying themselves. I amuse myself with 
reading, work, and music, and it is a great jour de fete with me 
when your letters arrive, it puts me in a good-humour for all 
day." It is sad to read the effort at gaiety with which she 
writes, that, " not to be the only stay-at-home," she had planned 
a little excursion with her ladies to Kopenick. Her lonely so- 
journ at Berlin, however, at least served to tranquillize the minds 
of the inhabitants, who were alarmed at the approach of war. 
The departure of the Queen Mother had added to the popular 
depression ; she had travelled with a larger train than usual, 
for she was in great exultation at the invitation to Rheinsberg ; 
neither was the exclusion of her daughter-in-law a source of re- 
gret to her ; a report was spread abroad that she had taken flight, 
the capital being in danger, and that the Queen was about to 
follow. Hearing of the panic which prevailed in the streets, 
Elizabeth Christina immediately went forth to show herself in 
public, and her appearance amongst them sufficed to calm 
the terrors of the populace. The campaign which ensued, 
brought to her various causes of anxiety. Besides the husband 
whom she still idolized, despite his growing alienation, she had 
other valuable stakes in the great game of war. Four of her 
brothers fought on the side of her husband, and one on that of 
the Austrians;* consequently, the despatches from the army 
were looked for by her with intense and painful interest. She 
received the intelligence of her husband's narrow escape from 
captivity at Camenz,t arid of the great victory of Hohenfriedberg 
with feelings of deep thankfulness ; but the Prussian conquest 
at Sorr was dearly bought for the Queen, since it cost the life 
of her young brother Albert ; the blow, too, was made heavier, 

that it fell, softened by no tenderness on the part of her hus- 

* Kugler, 

f Frederic escaped the Austrian soldiers sent to take him captive at this place, 
only by adopting the ecclesiastical garb and assisting in the performance of mass. 
In commemoration of the fidelity of the abbot, Tobias Stusche, he presented him 
with a rich set of ecclesiastical robes. The abbot had the Prussian eagle em- 
broidered upon them, and wore them first on Frederic's name-day. See Kugler's 
" Geschichte Fried, des Grossen." 


band. The rash conduct of the Prince had excited his displea- 
sure, even the death of the unfortunate young man seemed 
scarcely to mitigate his resentment ; he did not write at all to 
his Queen at first, and when he did so afterwards, it was in cold, 
unsympathizing terms, which did but lacerate the wound she 
had received. " I pity and regret the dead/' says his letter ; " I 
deplore the death of your brother Albert, but he incurred his 
fate from rashness, and without necessity ; I pity you, Madam, 
but there are events for which there is no remedy." Even the 
gentle heart of Elizabeth Christina resented this unkindness to 
the dead; she could not forgive the harshness of her husband's 
judgment; but on hearing that he had spoken kindly and 
sympathizingly on the subject to her brother Charles, the 
reigning Duke of Brunswick Bevern, she was but too happy to 
believe she had wronged his feelings, and she greeted his return 
to Berlin with delight when it took place, in October. 

On her birthday, too, the 8th of November, she notices with 
a pleasure which shows how any trifling mark of kindness from 
the King was treasured by her, that he had sent her two pieces 
of stuff early in the morning, as a present ; on that day, also, 
the banners which had been taken at Hohenfriedberg and Sorr, 
were hung up in the churches. On that same day secret intel- 
ligence was brought to Frederic that the Austrians and Saxons 
were about to make an attack upon the Mark itself. Like a 
skilful chess-player, who diverts a threatened attack at home by 
an unexpected irruption into the heart of his opponent's board, 
Frederic, whilst apparently only guarding his own frontiers, 
despatched the hardy veteran Anhalt into the very neighbour- 
hood of Dresden, whilst he himself appeared unexpectedly in 

These daring movements left his capital, indeed, unguarded, 
save by the citizens, who endeavoured to repair the fortifications 
of the city, if such they could be called. Meanwhile the in- 
habitants were in great and well-founded consternation : news 
was brought that the Austrian general lay encamped within 


three days' march. The archives were removed to a place of 
greater security : the inhabitants of the suburbs crowded into 
the town ; the inhabitants of the town fled into the country ; 
horses could scarcely be obtained on any terms ; the streets 
were crowded with carriages vainly awaiting the means of loco- 
motion. " Three deadly long days were thus spent, whilst 
every moment brought worse news/' says Bielefeld.* Suspense 
had reached its height, and the general depression was extreme, 
when the news of the victory at Catholic Hennersdorf suddenly 
changed the whole aspect of affairs. The two Queens had held 
themselves prepared for flight at any moment ; the news of the 
victory arrived whilst the Queen Mother was supping with 
Elizabeth Christina. " We have not passed an evening so con- 
tentedly for very long," writes the latter on the 17th of De- 

The battle of Hennersdorf was speedily succeeded by that of 
Kesselsdorf, where that old lion of war, the Prince of Anhalt- 
Dessau, gave one more brilliant proof that "Anhalt les 
Moustaches" was, though older, no way less vigorous and 
fiery than when he had joyfully led his troops to victory in the 
days of his youth. 

The conclusion of the peace of Dresden, after this short but 
brilliant campaign, which terminated the second Silesian war, 
left Frederic once more at liberty to return to Berlin. On the 
28th of December the whole town was in a state of joyful com- 
motion ; the inhabitants lined the road by which he was to ap- 
proach for miles ; cries of " Long live Frederic the Great " 
saluted the conqueror, and the tenderest of greetings awaited 
him from mother and wife. There was a general illumination, 
and the whole population was afloat in the glittering streets, 
which resounded with music and jubilation; no one thought of 
retiring to repose. But Frederic visited a very different scene 
that night ; his old preceptor, Duhan, lay dying, and the young 
King stood beside his bed in the chamber of death, strangely 

* Now Prince Ferdinand's tutor. 


lighted by the illuminations from without, to bid a long farewell 
to the friend of both his youth and manhood. 

This scene cast a gloom over Fredericks return. He had 
already lost, in the course of the year, two of his most cherished 
friends, Jordan and Kaiserling : he had written to Duhan him- 
self, shortly before, that in them he had lost " his family/' that 
he was " widowed and orphaned," and he entreated him to be 
careful of his health, for he was the last of his circle of friends. 
Strange, that in his " heart-sorrow," * he should not have turned 
to the heart that was aching to bestow its sympathies, yearning 
but for leave to speak one little word of comfort, and asking 
nothing in return ; but Frederic the Great preferred turning, 
for consolation and sympathy, to a set of wretched, little, pam- 
pered lap-dogs, instead of to a true-hearted and loving, though 
neglected wife. Verily, Frederic the Great had his reward ! 

During the eleven years of tranquillity which followed the 
peace of Dresden, Frederic sedulously attended to the improve- 
ment of his kingdom, particularly of the conquered province 
of Silesia, which he regarded with especial affection, and which 
soon repaid his care by assuming the appearance of a blooming 
garden, and adding richly to the resources of the treasury. 

To supply the place of his " beloved solitude " of Rheins- 
berg, which he had presented to his brother Henry, Frederic 
built himself a castle in the royal Weinberge, near Potsdam. 
He borrowed the conceit of the name " Sorgefrei," which one 
of his friends had given to his own country residence, and 
applied it to this new palace. But the monarch of Prussia had 
stirred up a political hornef s-nest when he seized Silesia, and 
Sans-souci was not very likely to furnish its inmate with the 
calm which its name ostentatiously announced. Here, how- 
ever, he indulged, at least, in the enlightened society which was 
his greatest enjoyment, literary and learned men once more 
surrounded him.f The Marquis D'Argens came to live in Berlin. 

* See Frederic's letter to Duhan. 

f Frederic wrote to Voltaire shortly after his accession, June 27, 1740, "I 


Voltaire had already twice visited that city ; he now accepted 
honorary office from Frederic, and took up his residence there. 
For a time he was constantly in the society of the King, who 
said he would add to his name, as the most honoured of his 
titles, that of " proprietor of Voltaire/' But no real friend- 
ship could subsist between men who were both exceedingly 
selfish, both egregiously vain, and both literary. Besides, 
Voltaire was greedy, and his Prussian Majesty was becoming 

Frederic always wrote in French, but he was not thoroughly 
master of the French language, either in style, grammar, or 
orthography. He wrote multifarious French verses, not because 
nature had made him a poet,* but his manner of thought was 
artificial in many respects, and he saw no objection to an arti- 
ficial style of poetry. Voltaire was employed to correct and 
revise these effusions, as well as the severer labours of Frederic's 
pen; sometimes he could not fail to find the royal Pegasus but 
a very sorry jade ; he condescended to flatter the King upon his 
poetry, but he spoke contemptuously of it to others. Unfortu- 
nately, an expression which he allowed himself to use to an 
author who requested him to read his unpublished work, that he 
" had not time, for he had the King's linge sale a blanchir" \ 
was repeated to Frederic, and it was never either forgotten or for- 
given. But his quarrel with the naturalist Maupertuis, like- 

have laid the foundations of our new academy ; I have made the acquisition of 
Wolff, Maupertuis, and Algarotti. I await the answer of Gravesende, of Vau- 
canson, and Euler." Recueil des Leltres de M. de Voltaire et du Roi de 

* Frederic informs Voltaire, in his correspondence, that a young and beautiful 
woman first taught him, in his youth, both to love and to make verses. Ibid. 

f* See Formey's "Memoirs d'un Citoyen." He is no friend to Voltaire, and 
gives this and a variety of other anecdotes in detail. Voltaire denied having 
ever used the expression ; in a letter to the King of Prussia, dated Ferney, 
Aug. 20, speaking of Maupertuis, he says: " J'ai tou jours sur le cceur le mal 
irreparable qu'il m'a fait : je ne penserai jamais a la calomnie du linge donne 
a blanchir a la blanchisseuse, a cette calomnie insipide qui m'a ete mortelle, et 
a tout ce qui s'en est suivi, qu'avec une douleur qui m'empoisonnera mes demiers 



wise an importation of French learning, whom Frederic had 
appointed President of the renovated and remodelled Academy 
of Sciences- was the immediate cause of Voltaire's rupture 
with the King of Prussia., inasmuch as he persisted in publish- 
ing his "Dr. Akakia" (a bitter satire upon Maupertuis), despite 
his promise to Frederic to suppress it.* I will not stay to tell 
how, on the cooling of their intimacy, the King, displeased with 
Voltaire's continual complaints of his supplies of coffee, candles, 
&c., stopped them. How Voltaire, in reprisals, descended from 
his room to steal the candles from the lustres, f and so on. 
Who would have believed that the two greatest geniuses of the 
age could condescend to such a petty warfare as school-boys 
might have waged upon each other's play-boxes ! 

Queen Elizabeth Christina, meanwhile, led a life which, from 
year to year, became more retired and monotonous. During 
the time that she was still crown Princess, she had received the 
little estate of Schonhausen as a present. After she became 
Queen, it was her constant summer residence ; she had greatly 
embellished the gardens and become much attached to the 
place. She used gladly, therefore, to hail the first sunny April 
days which might make an excursion thither possible. She was 
now never invited to join the rest of the family on their visits 
to the King at Potsdam, or elsewhere. There is extant a nearly 
continuous series of her letters to her brother Ferdinand, for 
some years after the peace of Dresden. The sad consciousness 
of slighted affection, isolation and neglect, runs through them 
all like a sort of melancholy refrain, as if the writer's thoughts, 
when allowed to dwell upon herself, had become sorrowfully at- 
tuned to that one theme. References, too, are made from time to 
time in them, to intrigues and " jealousy " on the part of the 
other members of the royal family, and no doubt there was but 
too much truth in her suspicions on this head. Frederic himself 
seems to have been conscious of the ill-feeling with which she 
was regarded, for in one of his letters to her, dated August 10, 
* See Formey's " Memoirs d'un Citoyen. t Ibid. 


1739, he says: " Ne elites point, s'il vous plait, que je vous 
ecris cette fois, parce que n'ecris point a la Heine." 

The King was very ill in the beginning of the year 1747. 
The Queen writes to Prince Ferdinand in February " I can 
now write, dear brother, with a more tranquil heart than I did 
by the last post ; for, God be praised ! our dear King is again 
better, and out of all danger ; he has been very ill, and I have 
suffered a thousand inquietudes. If I had dared, I should 
have gone to Potsdam myself, to see him ; perhaps he may 
come on Wednesday. I wish it with all my heart, for it would 
be the sign of a perfect recovery." In July, the same year, she 
says delightedly, " I have received a most obliging and gracious 
letter from the dear Master, apologizing for not alighting here 
as he passed, and giving me notice that he will come and see 
me here some day : he has also written to Madame de Camas 
in the most gracious manner. I keep this secret, so that the 
family may not hear of it. Sans quoi elk tdcherait de me 
jouer de nouveau, tout etant jaloux de la moindre grace qu'on 
me temoigne, but as I know it will give you pleasure, I do not 
fail to let you know. Je ne me suis pas sentie de joie when I 
received this letter, not having had anything so gracious for a 
long time." 

Another letter of nearly the same period, says, that the Queen 
Mother being invited to visit the King at Charlottenburg, Eli- 
zabeth Christina had requested to be permitted to go likewise. 
She expresses at the same time the most entire submission to 
her husband's will, " but," writes she, " it is mortifying to see 
myself thus always separated from him." This humble request 
was granted ; nevertheless, under the plea that there was not 
accommodation enough for so many visitors, the reigning Queen 
was obliged to return every night to Berlin, whilst the Queen 
Mother and her train were lodged in the palace at Charlotten- 
berg.* July 1748, she speaks of the reported improvements at 
Potsdam, and of her wish to inspect them. tf Yet it is not all 

* This was the visit when the fire described by Bielefeld, took place, in 1747. 

S 2 



this magnificence which attracts me, but the dear Master who 
inhabits the place. Why was it necessary that all should 
change, and that I should lose all the old kindnesses and 
favours ? I still think with pleasure of the times of Rheinsberg, 
when I enjoyed perfect contentment, having been kindly received 
by a master whom I cherish, and for whom I would sacrifice 
my life. Ah ! what regret do I feel now when all is changed ! 
but my heart will always be the same, and I hope always that 
all will again be as of old; this sole hope supports me." In 
August, 1749, the Queen Mother and her ladies went to Pots- 
dam, whilst the Queen and her sister, the Princess of Prussia, 
were left behind. August 20th, Schonhausen, she writes : 
"We are all alone here; many of the ladies are gone into the 
country, and others refuse my invitations. I believe they are 
afraid to come, lest it should give offence : every one avoids 
coming ; only the good Valori came before leaving for Potsdam : 
even Madame de Kanneberg could not come to me on Sunday, 
yet she was the same evening at Monbijou. 

' ' ' Quand la Fortune nous rit 

Elle mene a suite une foule d'amis.' 

Madame de Kanneburg grieves me, I thought her more con- 
stant, and have given her lately real proofs of my friendship ; 
but in this world there is nothing but ingratitude. I hope the 
dear King is well, and that his fatigues do not injure his health." 

February, 1750. "I wish I could change places with those 
who are at Potsdam unwillingly, and who do not like to be with 
the King ; as for me, I should hold it one of the greatest bless- 
ings which could happen to me; but, in the course of this 
world, one never has that for which one wishes." 

Again : " I am glad that my sister is of the party, at least it 
is a pleasure for her, and that is as it should be. I am charmed 
that it is only I who suffer mortifications, and who am aban- 
doned. The Prince of Prussia offered to leave her, but my 
greatest happiness is to see her happy; he would have spoken 
for me, but I replied at once, that though I was very sensible 


of the treatment I received, yet it would be an additional mor- 
tification to me to see my sister on the same footing as myself. 
For me there is nothing left to wish for, that can befall me, but 
to gain the prize in the great lottery at Frankfort to pay my 
debts with, and then tranquilly await my death, when it shall 
please God to withdraw me from this world, where there is 
nothing for me." 

Happy indeed was it for her who, despite her high-sounding 
title, had " nothing in this world," that she had early learned to 
lay up rich treasures in another, " where neither moth nor rust 
do corrupt, nor thieves break through and steal." 

Yet though Frederic neglected the Queen himself, he would 
not, wittingly, allow any other person to treat her with the 
slightest disrespect, as, presuming on the King's supposed total 
disregard of his consort, ill-informed or upstart strangers were 
sometimes apt to do. Once, several of the foreign singers, who 
were performing at Berlin, had the insolence to refuse to per- 
form at a concert given by her. Their conduct brought down 
a tremendous and well-deserved rebuke from the King, who 
ordered them, as his " express will," to hold themselves con- 
stantly at the command of Her Majesty, lest they should " oblige 
him to have recourse to more serious measures, to make them 
repent their extravagant and ridiculous arrogance." The next 
year he himself arranged the programme for her concert. 

Such foreign ambassadors, likewise, as were not wanting in 
discernment, found that attentions paid to the Queen by their 
employers, were by no means a bad method of obtaining the 
favourable attention of the King, as in the case of the Marquis 
de Valori, who, in his despatches to the French Court, requested 
that a handsome piece of Vincennes porcelain might be sent to 
her, because " this present would oblige her, and attentions to 
her flatter the King of Prussia ; for whatever may be his indif- 
ference to her, which I believe to be only feigned, it displeases 
him much to fail in what is due to her." * Occasionally, too, a 
* Von Hahnke. 


splendid present from Frederic would flatter his gentle wife with 
delusive hopes of a return of his affection. In 1747 he gave her 
a splendid phaeton, lined with scarlet velvet and gold, with 
trappings and housings of the same materials for the eight 
horses which drew it. In this splendid equipage the Queen ap- 
peared, dressed " d I'amazone," at a grand review, where the 
soldiers defiled and saluted before her. The next year she re- 
ceived a similar present ; this time eight milk-white horses, with 
nodding plumes, bore the Queen to the review, but these 
presents became rarer, as the necessity of economy impressed 
itself more and more upon Fredericks mind. 

Other sorrows, besides her husband's neglect, disturbed the 
peace of Elizabeth Christina from time to time ; her long-tried 
and trusted friend, Madame de Katsch, had been obliged, by ill- 
health, to cede to Madamede Camas in 1742, her post of Ober- 
hofmeisterin. She sunk gradually afterwards, until it at length 
became apparent that her existence was drawing to a close; 
wishing to spare her beloved mistress pain, she had declined to 
see her for some time, until the Queen insisted on being allowed 
to visit her early friend. On seeing Madame de Katsch, she 
was greatly shocked at the change which had taken place in 
her appearance, and already lamented the loss which she fore- 
saw awaited her; Madame de Katsch died in 1748. Another 
of the sorrows of the Queen of Prussia was, that her brother, 
Duke Anthony Ulric, had been imprisoned at the time of the re- 
volution, which deposed his infant son Iwan, and placed Eliza- 
beth upon the throne of Russia. Elizabeth Christina had begged 
her husband to interfere to procure her brother's liberty, and 
he had pleaded urgent reasons to excuse his not doing so. Duke 
Anthony therefore remained a prisoner. But a great political 
crisis was now at hand, which in its own overwhelming interest 
and excitement swallowed up, in the Queen's mind, all lesser 
anxieties. A storm, such as had never yet assailed the king- 
dom of Prussia, had long been gathering, black and terrible, 
over head. It was now about to burst, and to shake to its very 


foundations the throne of Frederic the Great in the course of 
the Seven Years' War. I need not dwell here upon causes 
which have been very frequently and fully detailed by so many 
abler pens ; it is sufficient to say, that Maria Theresa had 
never forgiven the robbery, as she considered it, which had 
despoiled her of Silesia, and that her minister Kaunitz was un- 
friendly to Prussia; that the petticoat government of France 
was irritated by the sarcasms of the wicked wit of Sans Souci ; 
that a similar cause prompted Russian ill-will ; that the omni- 
potent Briihl, at Dresden, personally disliked Frederic, who had 
thwarted him in 1742, and again and again since that era. 
Sweden also was influenced at that moment by France; besides, 
a general combination to dismember Prussia, led her once more 
to cast a longing eye upon Pomerania. Nothing but an 
alliance was needed to form the most crushing preponderance 
of power against Prussia. True, Austria and France were 
hereditary enemies, but now they had a common cause, and 
Maria Theresa stooped to flatter the Pompadour that difficulty 
vanished; the alliance was formed. No ally but England 
was left for Prussia. England was already at war with France, 
both in her American and Asiatic colonies ; an alliance in 
Europe was desirable ; Russia and Austria had leagued them- 
selves with her enemies ; she turned therefore to Prussia, and 
these two Powers, hitherto anything but mutually friendly, now 
united in a league offensive and defensive. With these singu- 
larly-altered political relations of the chief Powers of Europe 
which arrayed " five Powers, whose united population exceeded 
ninety millions, against a single kingdom with less than five 
millions," * commenced that dreadful struggle, known in his- 
tory as the Seven Years' War. 

Prompt and decided in action, as usual, Frederic did not await 
the attack of his enemies ; he was well aware of the advantage 
gained by an unexpected swoop, which like the sudden spring 

* See Mahon's England. 


of a wild beast, paralyses its victim for a time.* He dined 
and supped at Monbijou with his mother and wife on the 
19th August, 1756. On the 9th of September he was master 
of Dresden. On the 10th of October the people of Berlin 
were celebrating the victory of Lowositz ; f four days later 
the Saxon army, intrenched in Pirna, laid down their arms, 
and the campaign of the autumn of 1756 was at an end. 
Frederic took up his winter-quarters at BriihPs House, in 
Dresden. J 

But whilst the " great heart of Her Majesty " the Queen of 
Prussia was pouring out its thankfulness in tears, at the news 
of the result of the battle of Lowositz, and of the other 
successes of the Prussian arms, a very different feeling ani- 
mated the mind of the unhappy Queen of Poland. Left in 
the capital, and charged with the guardianship of most im- 
portant papers, by her supine husband and his minister, the 
discourtesy to which she had been subjected, by Frederic's 
imperative orders to his officers to secure the papers, added 
exasperation to the bitterness of spirit with which she beheld 
the downfall of her country, and joined her to the list of 
female enemies who had formed so powerful a league against 
Frederic. Fortune, too, was herself to unite, for a time, with 
this confederacy, in the ensuing campaign. || 

* See Livingstone's Africa, on the effect of the spring and bite of the lion. 

t Gained October 1st. 

I It is said that Frederic indulged his spite against the Saxon minister by 
shivering one of the magnificent pier-glasses in his luxuriously -furnished house, 
with his cane. See Malmesbury's Despatches. Other accounts say that he 
amused himself by inspecting the toilet appliances of this Saxon exquisite, whose 
jewels, watches, &c., to an incredible amount, were left behind ; but the most 
curious part of his property was a book, which contained not only an inventory, 
but also a portrait of each of his multitudinous suits of apparel ! 

Sack " expressed in his sermons 'the feeling which inspired the great heart 
of Her Majesty.' " See Von Hahnke. 

|| See Letter of Frederic to the Lord Marischal, after the battle of Kollin. 
" Fortune, my dear Lord, has this day turned her back upon me ; I ought to 
have expected it. Fortune is a female, and I am not gallant. Fortune now 
declares in favour of the ladies, who are making war upon me." 


The desperate, but splendid battle of Prague, although it all 
but destroyed the enemy, maimed Frederic's little army fearfully ; 
and even its dear-bought laurels withered, as he said, when he 
thought of Marshal Schwerin, as he fell shrouded by the glori- 
ous death-sheet of the Prussian banner.* 

As yet, nothing but the news of victory after victory had 
reached the ears which were so anxiously awaiting intelligence 
in Berlin; but now a terrible disaster in the field, family mis- 
fortune and bereavement at home, and calamitous failure on the 
part of Prussia's only ally, England, combined, nearly at the 
same moment, to depress the hearts of the royal family, and to 
paralyse, for the moment, even the energy of Frederic himself. 

He had made a flying visit to Berlin in the beginning of 
January, 1757, and, as usual, spent the last evening of his stay 
there with his mother, little thinking it was the last time he 
should ever see her. After that time no marked alteration was 
visible in her health, until the very day of her death, on the 
28th of June, the same year. 

The relations of the two Queens had latterly been much more 
friendly ; Elizabeth Christina speaks, in various passages of her 
letters, of the comfort which the increased kindness of her 
mother-in-law had proved to her. They appear to have been on 
terms of even affectionate intimacy for some time before the 
Queen Mother's death. It was, therefore, with sincere grief 
upon her own account, as well as upon that of her husband, to 
whom she well knew the loss would prove a heavy trial, that 
Elizabeth Christina received the intelligence of the death of her 
mother-in-law. That of the defeat of Kollin f arrived almost 
simultaneously. The Queen and the Princess of Prussia passed 
the evening of that sad day together, in the vain effort to console 
each other. Fortunately they were not then fully aware of what 
the probable results of that defeat might be, nor of the domes- 

* See Lord Mahon's quotation from Archenholz "Das panier seines Monar- 
chen deckte ihn, und verhullte seine Todes-zuge." 

t The battle of Kollin was fought on the 18th June, 1757. 


tic misfortune and premature widowhood which it was to bring 
upon one of the sisters. But the return of Prince William from 
the camp, broken in health, and with that barbed shaft which 
was to bring him to an untimely grave, already rankling in his 
heart, afforded ample occupation both to the Princess and the 
Queen, in providing, at least, for his bodily comfort, and in 
striving to assuage the pain of his mental wound. 

Frederic's harshness upon this occasion, as before upon the 
death of her own young brother, seems to have awakened doubts 
of his justice, even in the mind of his adoring wife. Prince 
William's character was so amiable and affectionate, and he 
was so much beloved by all the other members of his family, 
that the bitter resentment which Frederic testified against him, 
on account of the disastrous result, (partly caused by his own 
obstinate disbelief of Prince William's representations,) of the 
retreat which he had conducted, might well produce doubts as to 
the nature of his fraternal feelings. Prince William saw his 
brother but once again, and on that occasion a cutting sarcasm 
drove him back to Rheinsberg, to mourn over his unjustly- 
blighted honour, to languish on for a few months, and then to 
die, in the very prime of his manhood, unreconciled to the 
brother whose unkindness had broken his heart. And Frederic 
himself, by no means free from the blame of military tacticians * 
in the defeat of Kollin, could act thus towards his gentle- 
hearted brother, whilst the mother that bore them both and 
whose death was at that very time causing him the most 
poignant sorrow was as yet not laid in her grave. Certainly, 
the character of this man formed one of the strangest com- 
pounds of feeling and the want of it, as well as of grandeur 
and littleness, which our strange human nature ever presented. 

Meanwhile, danger was gathering round Prussia on every 
side. The very capital fell for a moment into the hands of the 
enemy. The royal family took hasty refuge at Spandau, and 
the Austrian general Haddick, levied a contribution of 200,000 

* Kugler. 


Thalers on Berlin, and procured for his Empress that curious 
trophy of ladies' kid gloves, which furnished a ludicrous omen 
of the result of the war, inasmuch as, when unpacked, they 
were found to be all made to fit the left hand only ! * The 
Convention of Closter Seven, which fettered the hands of his 
English allies, and left the Hanoverian frontier open to his 
French enemies, alone seemed wanting to complete the ruin of 
Frederic ; but flinging off the depression caused by defeat and 
sorrow, he was now once more himself, and once more his 
enemies retreated, discomfited, before him. 

On the eighth of November, her birthday, the Queen cele- 
brated the victory of Rossbach, in Magdeburg, f whither she had 
received directions from the King to repair, with the Princess 
Amelia, and the other members of the royal family. And 
though this battle did but gain King Frederic " leisure to fight 
another," one month afterwards, the pious Prussian soldiery, 
who had marched to battle singing that simple prayer of manful 

" Gieb dass ich theu' mit Fleiss was mir zu thun gebiihret "J 
were sending up beneath the star-lit heaven, amidst the dead 
and wounded, on the bloody field of Leuthen, their solemn 
hymn of thanksgiving to the God, who had heard and granted 

* Kugler. 

f Great numbers of the French prisoners taken at Rossbach were sent to Mag- 
deburg ; the officers were most kindly treated, rather like visitors of distinction 
than prisoners. But they seem to have repaid this hospitality by the most dis- 
graceful conduct ; when invited to the Queen's assemblies they ransacked the 
chateau as if it were the property of a conquered enemy, looking into the buffets, 
and, it is said, even carrying off the plate ; whilst with the grossest disrespect, some 
of them were seen, lounging and cracking nuts, behind the Queen's chair as she was 
seated at the card -table. Thiebault. They even ventured to post up scandalous 
affiches respecting some of the court ladies. The Marquis D'Argens wrote to the 
King to complain of these impertinences, and Frederic gave orders that they should 
be placed under a somewhat stricter measure of surveillance. Von Hahrike. 

J " Grant that I do with zeal, that which to do behoveth." 

As the foremost columns marched forward, singing this hymn, an officer asked 
Frederic whether he should enjoin silence on the soldiers. He replied "No !" 
and, turning to the pious Ziethen, remarked "Do you not think, that with such 
soldiers, God will certainly give me the victory ? " 


their prayer. No wonder, as Frederic said, that with "such 
soldiers God had given him the victory." 

These successes having rendered the residence in Berlin 
once more secure, the Queen and Court prepared to return 
thither, and great was the rejoicing consequent upon this event, 
as well as upon the news of the King's victories, for Elizabeth 
Christina was justly popular in the capital. She was, there- 
fore, received with acclamation when she re-entered its gates on 
the 5th of January, 1758. 

On the Duke of Cumberland resigning the command, after 
concluding the convention of Closter Seven, Prince Ferdinand 
of Brunswick had been appointed General of the combined 
English and Hanoverian troops. He set off to assume this 
charge shortly after the battle of Rossbach. He was the 
Queen's favourite brother ; they were firmly united, not only 
by the bonds of fraternal affection, but also by the simple, un- 
affected piety which formed the basis of the characters of both. 
The intelligence of the glorious distinction which Prince 
Ferdinand had earned at Crefeld, and of the enthusiastic ad- 
miration in which he was held in England, which made such 
noble English soldiers as Lord Granby and General Conway 
proud to fight under his command, could not fail to inspire his 
sister with the liveliest delight. Her husband also once more 
needed her assistance and mediation with her brother Charles of 
Brunswick, who had threatened to withdraw his troops ; her in- 
tervention was successful ; the King wrote to thank her from the 
camp ; he mentioned her services also to her brother Ferdinand, 
speaking of her, in his letter, by that precious, but now seldom- 
used title of " my wife," and Elizabeth Christina was proud 
and happy. But many a bitter drop mingled even in that brief 
draught of pleasure. The death of Prince William, early in 
June, left her beloved sister crushed and widowed in heart and 
mind ; he had been a tender husband and father, although the 
natural shyness of his disposition made him ashamed to mani- 
fest his feelings openly. He had also been a kind and steady 


friend to the Queen herself, and she had too few upon whose 
friendship she could rely, not to miss him sorely from the circle. 
She wrote to the King, in her grief and anxiety for her sister ; 
and to her comfort, he promised, in his reply, to be a father to 
his brother's fatherless children, and the end of his letter was 
blistered with his tears. He also acceded to her request, that 
her mother might be allowed to come to visit and comfort the 
Princess of Prussia j but there is something very painful in the 
humble request she makes for this little favour, promising that 
no intrigues shall arise, and that no expense shall be incurred 
in her mother's reception. Besides these troubles also, the 
ravages that the Russian army was committing in the northern 
districts of Prussia, leaving nothing but black and smouldering 
ruins and houseless, starving wretches, where they had found 
prosperous villages and a happy peasantry, called for painful 
sympathy in every feeling heart. Zorndorf, which put a stop to 
their outrages, though it was a glorious victory, was a day of 
dreadful battle, where the stern vengeance of the Prussians, 
which would give or take no quarter, lavishly watered that 
ghastly field with some of the noblest blood of Prussia, as well 
as with that of the barbarous foe. 

The defence of the Fatherland, too, which had already cost 
her so dear, was soon to demand another sacrifice from the 
family of Elizabeth Christina, in the person of her brother, 
Frederic Franz ; thus the defeat of Hochkirch became to her, as 
but to too many another mourner in the land, a twofold disaster. 
To add to her own grief also, she shared that of her husband 
for the death of his favourite sister, the Margravine of Bai- 
reuth, which occurred on the 14th of October, the very day of 
the battle, and which she knew would have a severe effect 
upon the mind of the King. It was indeed a terrible blow to 
come upon him, in the midst of the depression caused by the 
desperate position of his affairs after the defeat, when the sal- 
vation of the country itself, depended only upon the exhausted 
state of the Austrian army, which prevented Daun from imrae- 


diately taking advantage of his success. That winter, which 
Frederic passed at Dresden, having resolved not to re-enter his 
capital, until he could do so with a prospect of peace, was a 
season of great trial to the Queen. The next year, 1759, in its 
mingled report of good and evil fortune, furnished tidings of 
her brother Ferdinand's splendid victory at Minden, but a few 
posts before the courier of terrible defeat followed at the heels 
of him, who was to have borne triumphant news of victory at 
Kiinersdorf. The defeat of Wedell had allowed the junction of 
Soltikoff and Loudon ; Frederic's army was all but destroyed 
at Kiinersdorf; the road to Berlin was open to the enemy; 
and once more the royal family received hasty directions from 
the King to take shelter at Magdeburg. 

As in the cases of Kollin and Hochkirch, the defeat of 
Kiinersdorf produced a temporary, but entire prostration in the 
mind of Frederic. It was in moments such as these that the 
real weakness of the man, who was without any " sure hope in 
his God/' became apparent. The only idea which possessed 
attraction for his mind, in his despondency, was the (as he 
hoped) dreamless sleep of death. He had accustomed himself 
to the idea of suicide; perhaps, if the truth were known, he 
rather liked it should be rumoured that he carried a deadly 
poison constantly about his person ; he now, in no doubtful 
terms, expressed his intention of not surviving disgrace. Truly 
it was not astonishing that the mind of a man, who had been 
constantly, for the last four years, straining every nerve to meet, 
with his little army, the overwhelming numbers of the foes which 
beset him on every side, should sometimes be unstrung. He 
had written to D'Argens in the beginning of the year that there 
was no longer a " Sans Souci " in the world for him ; that his 
friend would not recognise him, in the old, gray, worn-out man 
he had become. He complained to Algarotti of the fate that 
rendered him " homeless, like the wandering Jew/' His health 
was not equal to the dreadful fatigues of body and mind which 
he was called upon to encounter. Nevertheless, even at a mo- 


ment when lie seemed on the very brink of despair and self-de- 
struction an oversight of the enemy, an instant's hesitation in 
taking advantage of a victory afforded stimulus enough to set 
Fredericks boundless energy once more in full play, and some 
masterly and lightning-like movement forestalled his adversary's 
march, or defeated his best-laid plans. So it was in the present 
instance; Soltikoff had suffered much from the battle ; another 
such victory, said he, and he must carry his staff to his imperial 
mistress, as all that remained of his command. He and Loudon 
allowed a difference of opinion to divide the unity of their opera- 
tions; neither of them would march on to Berlin at once. 
Frederic took advantage of their delay to repair his numerical 
losses. In an incredibly short time he was again ready for the 
contest, but his adversaries separated and withdrew, leaving 
him free to hasten into Saxony, where he had experienced 
several misfortunes. 

The winter season of rest gave him time to provide for the 
emergencies of the next campaign. True the treasuries had 
long been exhausted, the coinage was debased to the lowest 
degree, and the English subsidies eked out with alloy ; * 
whilst recruits were levied^ seduced, or stolen, no one knew 
whence ;t still the next year found the King of Prussia making 
head, as vigorously as ever, against the Austrian and Russian 
generals. The victory of Liegnitz, in the autumn of 1760, 

* Thiebault says that the four millions furnished by England, became ten in the 
hands of Ephraim the Jew (who was employed by Frederic to extend his finances 
in various ways). See the " Souvenirs de Vingt Ans." 

p The French frontiers furnished many of these recruits, who were either 
dazzled by the hope of speedy promotion in Frederic's army, or forcibly carried 
off by the Prussian emissaries. Few of these young men could speak German, 
they were therefore, before the King saw them, generally taught to pronounce the 
regular answers to the three questions which he always asked them in Grerman on 
these occasions " How old are you"? " " How long have you served ? " "Are 
you well fed and treated ?" Frederic one day accidentally transposed these ques- 
tions, so that the dialogue then took place in the following order: "How long 
have you served ?" " Twenty-one years." "How old are you ?" " One year, 
Sire !" "Are you mad or am I ?" "Both, Sire." For this anecdote see Thie- 
bault's "Souvenirs," and the "Karakterziige F.W.I." 


secured him Silesia, but Berlin fell into the enemy's hands, 
despite the gallant defence of the wounded hero of Rossbach 
and Zorndorf, Seydlitz. The news of the King's approach, 
however, sufficed to free the capital from the presence of the 
invaders ; and Frederic was back in Saxony, driving Daun from 
his intrenchments, and forcing him to give battle at Torgau, by 
the 3rd of November. 

The campaign of the next year was one of extreme difficulty^ 
and though no absolute defeat crippled the forces of Frederic, 
still he was hemmed in by enemies on every side. The 
ministry of Lord Bute deprived him of the regular supplies he 
had hitherto relied upon from England : Choiseul's attempts at 
a pacification were unsuccessful. Prussia seemed once more 
on the brink of destruction, when the death of the Empress Eli- 
zabeth, placed Frederic's ardent admirer, Peter the Third, on the 
throne, and thus by bringing about a peace with Russia, 
procured him a moment's breathing time and a nearer approach 
to an equality of forces ; and though upon the deposition and 
murder of Peter the Third, the Empress Catherine recalled her 
troops (for she was by no means so warm an ally of Frederic's 
as her husband had been, although, as Princess of Anhalt 
Zerbst, she had lived in his dominions, been received by his 
Queen, and even owed to him her elevation to the imperial 
crown),* yet Frederic succeeded in inducing Czernitzcheff to 
delay his march, until he had time once more to give battle to 
Daun, whom he completely defeated at Burkersdorf. Sweden, 
long since weary of the war, had found it imperatively neces- 
sary, when Russia joined Frederic, herself to make peace with 
Prussia. The peace of Paris, in November, 1762, which with- 
drew England arid France from the war, left Frederic more than 
a match for Maria Theresa ; she had therefore now no choice 
but to submit to a peace, which left Silesia, the primary cause 
of contention, still in the hands of her detested antagonist 

* He had procured her selection as consort of Peter III., in order to strengthen 
his interests in Russia. 


Frederic, Austria as well as Prussia terribly impoverished in 
men and money. 

Thus was dissipated "what Chatham termed, with some 
exaggeration, the most malignant confederacy that ever yet has 
threatened the independence of mankind," * and thus termi- 
nated the most extraordinary struggle ever, perhaps, chronicled 
in history, in which the genius of one man supplied to Prussia 
the place of troops, resources and allies ; and in which, also, 
though constantly contending with a heavy numerical supe- 
riority, in twelve pitched battles Frederic was only three times 
completely defeated.f 

One great secret of his success, no doubt, was the kindly 
familiarity with which his troops regarded him. There is some- 
thing very pleasant in the friendly relation which existed between 
Frederic and his men all through the long campaigns of this 
war. He commonly addressed them as his ec children/' and in 
reply they termed him " Fritz," or " alter Fritz." When on a 
weary march the soldiers fell out of rank, the King's " Gerade, 
Kinder, Gerade ! " would not unfrequently be replied to, by 
"Auch Fritz gerade, und die Stiefel in die Hohe ! " J The 
womanly kindness which many a wounded soldier received at 
his hands, had greatly endeared him to these rough children of 
his. His affectionate attention and respect for the venerable 

* See Lord Mahon's " History of England, from 1713 to 1789." 
f It is remarkable that in each of these defeats Frederic carried out an error of 
judgment with a persistence which looks like infatuation. At the battle of Kollin 
he suddenly changed a plan which was leading him to victory, and forced Prince 
Moritz of Dessau, at the sword' s-point, to carry out the new dispositions, despite 
his urgent remonstrances. At Hochkirch, Keith (a Scotchman, brother of the 
Lord Marischal), said that if the Austrians did not attack, they " deserved to be 
hanged." Yet Frederic suffered them to surprise his troops in their sleep. At 
Kunersdorf the Russians were already defeated, when, notwithstanding the ex- 
haustion of his soldiers, from the violent heat as well as the foregoing conflict, he 
forgot to make a golden bridge before a flying foe, and, despite the remonstrances 
of the gallant Seydlitz, led them on to renew the engagement, was met by a fresh 
body of troops, and entirely defeated. 

J "Straight, children, straight!" "Fritz straight, too, and pull your 
boots up ! " 


Ziethen, his " old father," as he called him, is likewise a truly 
pleasant feature in Fredericks character, amidst these stern 
scenes of blood and war.* 

Whilst these events were passing in the field, it may be 
imagined what anxiety prevailed in the minds of the royal 
family of Prussia at home. The enemy did not march upon 
Berlin immediately after the battle of Kiinersdorf, as had been 
expected, nor was it until October, 1760, that Tottleben 
and Lacy approached the capital. Elizabeth Christina heard 
with regret, from her retreat at Magdeburg, of the havoc which 
their barbarous troops had committed at Charlottenburg, and of 
the desecration of those quiet shades at Schonhausen, where, 
having dismissed her train, she used to find the company of a 
book and the music of the nightingales, such a pleasant ex- 
change for the society of the Court.f Still this was but a 
trifling grievance, compared with the other terrible evils of war. 
Nor could the jocund news of triumph after triumph, which 
made the hearts of the Magdeburgers to " bound " when they 
" heard couriers arriving in constant succession, each bringing 
the news of some fortress taken, some victory won/' J silence 
the voice of distress amongst the people, and of grief amongst 
the bereaved. The population of Berlin itself had been reduced 

* One night after a battle the old man fell asleep beside a camp fire ; the King 
watched his slumbers well pleased, and said to the officer who brought him a mes- 
sage, "Hush! don't wake Ziethen, he is tired, " whilst he smiled his approbation of 
the trooper who gently placed a log under the slumbering veteran's head. One 
day, long after peace was restored, Ziethen, then a very old man, came into the 
audience chamber ; as soon as the King saw him he went to him, saying, "I am 
sorry you have come up all these steps, I would rather have come to you." He 
then ordered a chair to be brought for his old friend, and, on Ziethen declining to 
sit in his presence, he said, ' ' Sit down, old father, sit down, or I shall leave the 
room sooner than inconvenience you." 

*h Letter from Elizabeth Christina to her brother, 1756. "I live very tran- 
quilly here ; if it is too hot, I take a book and go into the little wood ; the com- 
pany of books is better than that of my train, who have only to do what they 
please and not trouble themselves about me. " ' ' We occasionally breakfast in one 
of the new summer-houses, where nothing is to be heard but the nightingales and 
the murmur of the water. 1 ' 

J Rotger. SeePreuss, "Lebens Geschichte." 


by nearly one-tenth in the course of the war, and a very large 
proportion of those who remained were in a state of beggary. 
Elizabeth Christina found but too heavy a call upon the muni- 
ficence of her ever ready hand, both here and at Magdeburg, 
and at both places she was looked up to with a species of loving 
veneration. When permission came from the King for the 
Queen and royal family to return to the no longer insecure 
capital, the people of Magdeburg, though they shared their 
benefactress's joy that she was about to return to her home, 
assembled to witness her departure with regret ; but a pro- 
portionate degree of rejoicing prevailed at Berlin. The preacher 
K iister bears witness to the noble example set by the Queen's 
conduct during those times of trial. " Never," said he, " shall I 
forget those stormy Magdeburg hours, in which Her Majesty, 
during the war, set an example of the highest piety and most 
heroic confidence in God. When the prudent and the cowardly 
trembled, she alone was unshaken in her glad hope for the 
future." " God preserve the mother of this land, who prayed 
for us in time of need ! " said the sermon on the restoration of 
peace ; and who can tell how much the prayers of that gentle 
and righteous woman availed in her husband's cause ? 

Great, indeed, was her thankful delight, when her prayers 
were answered, and her unshaken faith rewarded by the resto- 
ration of peace, which was announced to her by a letter from her 
husband, dated March 3, 1763, saying that he hoped to sup 
with her in Berlin, before the end of the month. 

The peace of Hiibertsburg was concluded on the 15th of 
February, 1763. On the 30th of March following, Frederic 
the Great once more re-entered his capital ; and, to add to the 
heartfelt delight of the Queen, the same carriage which brought 
the man who was dearer to her than the whole world besides, 
contained also him who held the next place in her heart her 
noble brother Ferdinand, seated in the place of honour beside 
the King whom he had so gloriously served. 

The people crowded the roads, and waited at the gates from 
early morning until night, when Frederic at last arrived ; but 

T 2 


the enthusiastic shouts that greeted his appearance seemed to 
wake an echo of past suffering in every heart. It was six years 
since the King had last set foot in his capital j he had visited 
Kunersdorf by the way, and his heart was thronged by painful 
remembrances. He had written to his old friend D'Argens, 
shortly before, "I, a poor old man, return to a town, of which 
I know nothing save the walls, where I meet none of my ac- 
quaintances, where innumerable labours await me, and where, 
in a short time, I must lay my old bones in a resting-place 
which neither war, sorrow, nor wickedness can disquiet." It 
was with feelings of a very mingled nature, therefore, that he 
returned the greetings of his subjects. Shortly after his return 
he ordered Graun's Te Deum to be performed in the chapel at 
Charlottenburg. It was supposed that the whole Court would 
be present, but, contrary to all expectation, Frederic entered 
the chapel alone, sat down and covered his face with his hands, 
and thus remained during the whole of the performance. 

The years which followed were indeed a period of blissful 
quiet, after the storms which had convulsed not only the 
bounded horizon of Prussia, but that of both the eastern 
and western hemispheres besides. I have little of interest 
to relate with regard to the uneventful life of Elizabeth 
Christina after this time. The two journeys to Magdeburg 
were the only occasions on which she left the walls of 
the capital to travel a greater distance than to Schonhausen 
during the whole period of her married life. She had enter- 
tained a great desire to go to Brunswick to see her sister Juliana, 
whom she had not seen since she was a child, before her Danish 
marriage in 1759, but she would not ask the King, for fear of 
annoying him : she never saw that sister again. She lost her 
mother in the spring of the year 1762, and although she had 
been long parted from her, it caused her bitter grief: still her 
sister, the Princess of Prussia, remained to her, and on her and 
her children she delighted in bestowing marks of her affection. 

The marriage of her nephew, Frederic William, the crown 
Prince of Prussia, son of Prince William and Louisa Amalie, to 


his cousin, who was also the Queen's niece, Elizabeth Christina 
Ulrica, the daughter of Charles, (now reigning Duke of Bruns- 
wick,) and Frederic's sister Charlotte, took place in 1765. This 
union, which seemed at first to promise such happy results, was 
in the end fraught with the most disastrous consequences to 
the unfortunate Princess Elizabeth. She was handsome in 
person, engaging and graceful in manner, lively, high-spirited 
and impetuous in disposition. There were materials of the fair- 
est promise in such a character as this, but unfortunately the 
very qualities which might have brought happiness to herself 
and others were, in her, perverted by the most cruel of causes. 
Nature had bestowed upon the crown Prince a far greater pre- 
ponderance of matter than of mind, says the author of the 
' ' Vertraute Briefed Frederic William was now twenty-one years 
of age ; his disposition was good, but his capacity was slender ; 
he resembled the Bruns wicks in person,* being six feet two in 
height, and proportionally stout. But he was unfortunately ad- 
dicted to the grossest sensuality, and his time, when not occupied 
by his military duties, was spent with vile women and other 
loose companions. His young wife resented this conduct in the 
highest degree ; wounded alike in her wifehood and her woman- 
hood, she not only separated herself from the crown Prince, and 
haughtily refused him admission to her presence, but, alas ! she 
sacrificed even virtue to revenge.f The crown Prince was in- 
formed of certain of her secrets, by a mask, at a ball given by 
Prince Henry on the 24th of January, to celebrate the King's 
birthday. Being himself so immaculate an example of con- 
jugal fidelity, he was violently enraged at the discovery, and 
impatiently demanded a divorce. The crown Princess, on 
account of her sprightly manner, intelligence, and amiable dis- 
position, was a great favourite with the King, her uncle. He 
had but little respect for the virtue of the female sex, and none 
for the character of his sensual nephew ; he would fain, on all 
accounts, have accommodated matters, but Frederic William was 
urgent in his demand for a divorce, and, in the year 1769, a 

* Thiebault. f Ibid. 


divorce was accordingly pronounced. The crown Princess laid 
aside the title of Royal for that of Serene Highness, and was 
placed under confinement at Kiistrin ; she passed the remainder 
of her life here, and at Stettin. One of the Brunswick family 
was the governor of Kiistrin, and his kindness much relieved 
the dulness of her imprisonment. Still it was a solitary life 
for a warm-hearted person like this unhappy lady. She had 
always been very fond of dancing, in which her graceful figure 
caused her to excel ; it is said that to wear out the tedious hours 
of her solitude, she used sometimes to place all the chairs in a 
long row in her apartments, and dance " Anglaises " between 
them ; this, however, was but a sorry refuge from ennui. 
Thiebault, from whose " Souvenirs " I have drawn most of these 
particulars, says, that she once attempted to make her escape, 
with the purpose of going to Venice, but the officer who was to 
have been her guide, suddenly disappeared, and she remained in 
imprisonment. It was reported at the time that she received 
a visit from her husband after his accession ; the strictness of 
her imprisonment was much relaxed after this epoch, and she 
received permission to entertain visitors, and to walk, and ride 
on horseback in the environs of the town. Mirabeau says that 
her liberty was offered her, but that she declined it, preferring 
to remain at Stettin. She died at this place, aged 94, in 1840. 
Her high spirit seems never to have failed her, for the " Souve- 
nirs " relate that, her mother having sent her a piece of 
brocade for a dress, as a New Year's gift, the officer appointed 
to collect the customs wished to open the packet, but she re- 
fused to allow him to do so, and on his persisting somewhat 
insolently in his demand, she gave him a hearty box on the ear, 
which indignity so enraged him that he appealed to the King 
for redress; but he received for answer, "that no man could ever 
be insulted by a blow from the hand of so fair a lady," and had 
to digest the affront as best he might. Unfortunately, the ruin 
of this unhappy Princess drew down misfortune and disgrace 
upon one from whom she would have given worlds to avert it ; 
this was her brother, Prince William of Brunswick. He was a 


young man of the most promising disposition and talents ; he 
had been aware of his sister's indiscretions, and in his endea- 
vours to screen her faults and defend her honour, he had him- 
self become involved in the accusations brought against her ; 
he was therefore ordered not to leave his regiment. This 
injustice weighed upon his mind; he asked to be allowed to 
resign his commission, but was not permitted to do so ; he then 
endeavoured to occupy himself with the composition of a French 
poem which he had begun, upon the conquest of Mexico ; but 
the brand of dishonour was burning into his brain and heart ; 
he now demanded permission to enter the service of the Empress 
Catherine in the war against the Turks, and his request was 
granted. Here in two battles he fought bravely, despairingly, 
like a man who vainly seeks, amidst the shower of bullets, one 
merciful messenger of death to still his pain. Covered with 
glory, but broken-hearted, he found the death he had vainly 
sought in the battle-field, from a fever, mainly caused by the 
depression of his mind. Another of the Princess Elizabeth's 
brothers, Frederic, is spoken of by Mirabeau as being much 
given to intrigue, and as having vilely aided to publish the dis- 
honour of his sister. Her eldest brother was that Ferdinand, 
Duke of Brunswick, who, as hereditary prince, so much distin- 
tinguished himself under the command of his uncle Prince Fer- 
dinand, at Minden, and throughout the Westphalian campaign ; 
who afterwards conducted with doubtful skill and more than 
doubtful fidelity the French campaign of 1792; and who, 
made eommander-in-chief by Frederic William III., upon the 
strength, or rather weakness of a fallacious glitter of reputa- 
tion, ruined the cause of Prussia in 1806, offering up his sight 
and his worn-out life, a sacrifice to the genius of his offended 
country, at Auerstadt. 

This has been a long but a necessary digression from the 
quiet and even tenor of the life of the gentle and virtuous 
Queen of Prussia. To return to that theme, therefore. The 
King was deeply affected by the fate of his niece ; with a 
degree of feeling that did him credit, he wrote to his Queen to 


take her infant daughter under her own charge, after the 
divorce. " There is," said he, " only this poor child remaining 
to her, and she can find no asylum save with you ; let the little 
one have the apartments lately occupied by my niece of Hol- 
land." Had Elizabeth Christina needed any impulse, save 
that of her own kind heart, willingly to undertake this 
responsibility, her husband's slightest wish would have been a 
law to her; she therefore took the child to her heart, feeling 
that though God had denied her the blessing of children of her 
own, yet that He had now in an especial manner made up to 
her for the privation, by placing under her maternal care this 
doubly-orphaned child ; and, while she sorrowed over the faults 
and misfortunes of the mother, she strove diligently to supply 
her place to the child, and well and wisely did she fulfil the 
duties which Providence had thus manifestly delegated to her. 
The child, as it grew up, repaid her cares by a truly filial affec- 
tion, and, in the course of time, when the Princess Frederica 
of Prussia was married to the Duke of York, her letters 
from England afforded one of Elizabeth Christina's greatest 
pleasures. Queen Charlotte, of England, who owed her selec- 
tion as the Queen of George the Third, to Frederic the Great,* 
and who, at the time of her own marriage, had already had some 
kindly intercourse of letters with the Queen of Prussia, whom 
she much esteemed, wrote to Elizabeth Christina upon the oc- 
casion of her son's union with the Princess Frederica. " If 
anything could add to my satisfaction at the choice of my son, 
it would be the lively interest which your Majesty takes in the 
fate of this Princess, your pupil, and I assure you that a 
Princess brought up under your eye, and to whom you render 

* When the Prussian troops overran the Principality of Mecklenburg Strelitz 
during the Seven Years' "War, the Princess Sophia Charlotte, then a young girl, was 
so distressed by the sufferings of her people, that she wrote to Frederic the Great 
in a manner which caused him to conceive a great respect for her mind and heart. 
With his usual politic view of marrying German princesses to the rulers of 
foreign countries, and thus introducing the claims of family connection, always 
strong amongst those of German blood, he sent a copy of this letter to the young 
King of England, George III., who had just ascended the throne, and who was 


so high a testimony, shall find in me not only a mother but a 
friend ; and I hope that in gaining the Princess's friendship, I 
shall also gain a part in yours, which would be of great value 
to me. v The young Duchess of York, in her first letters from 
England, tells her great aunt how well Queen Charlotte had 
kept this promise, in the motherly reception which she gave her, 
how she had appeared touched at the Queen of Prussia's letter, 
and with what delicate kindness a portrait of her more than 

recommended to select a consort. George III. was struck, as Frederic, knowing 
his character, imagined he would be, by the tone of feeling and good sense dis- 
played by the letter, and he caused proposals to be made for the hand of the Princess 
who had written it. 

A copy of the important epistle which brought ' ' good Queen Charlotte " to Eng- 
land, is subjoined : 

" May it please your Majesty, 

" I am at a loss whether I should congratulate or condole with you on your late 
victory, since the same success which has covered you with laurels has overspread 
the country of Mecklenburg with desolation. I know, Sire, that it seems unbe - 
coming in my sex, in this age of vicious refinement, to feel for one's country, to 
lament the horrors of war, or to wish for the return of peace. I know you may 
think it more properly my province to study the arts of pleasing, or to inspect sub- 
jects of a more domestic nature, but, however unbecoming it may be in me, I can- 
not resist the desire of interceding for this unhappy people. 

It was but a very few years ago that this territory wore the most pleasing ap- 
pearance. The country was cultivated, the peasant looked cheerful, and the towns 
abounded with riches and festivity. What an alteration, at present, from such a 
charming scene ! I am not expert at describing, nor can my fancy add any horrors 
to the picture ; but surely even conquerors themselves would weep at the prospect 
now before me. The whole country, my dear country, lies before me one frightful 
waste, presenting objects to excite terror, pity, and despair. The business of the 
husbandman and the shepherd are quite discontinued ; the husbandman and the 
shepherd are become soldiers themselves, and assist to ravage the soil they 
formerly cultivated. The towns are inhabited only by old men, women, and 
children, with perhaps here and there a wounded and crippled warrior, left as 
useless at his own door. See how his little children come round him, ask the his- 
tory of every wound, and grow almost soldiers themselves before they have judg- 
ment to calculate the distress that war brings upon mankind. But all this might 
be borne, did we not suffer from the alternate insolence of either army, as it hap- 
pens to advance or retreat, in pursuing the objects of the campaign ; it is impos- 
sible to express the confusion which those who even call themselves our friends 
create, and those from whom we might expect redress oppress us with new 
calamities. From your justice, Sire, it is, therefore, that we hope for relief ; 
even women and children may complain to you, whose humanity stoops to 
the meanest petition, and whose power is capable of redressing the greatest 
injustice. "lam, Sire, &c." 

See Andrews' s Life of George III. 


mother, Elizabeth Christina, had been placed in her room, to 
greet her with the well-known smile on her arrival, and that 
the sight of that dear face had moved her to tears, even in the 
midst of her bridal happiness, as the thought of the happy 
days she had spent under her aunt's care came over her mind. 
Again came from Oaklands one telling how the Duchess 
had "spent yesterday, Jan. 6, 1793, from 4 P.M. till 3 A.M., 
in the House of Commons," and that the eleven hours thus 
spent had seemed to her like a few minutes, so absorbed had 
she been in the interest of the all-exciting topic then undergoing 
discussion, &c. 

A very sincere attachment also subsisted between the 
Princess Wilhelmina of Prussia and her aunt the Queen, and 
after the former's marriage with the hereditary Prince of 
Orange took her to Holland, her frequent and affectionate 
letters proved with what interest the health and well-being of 
this friend of her youth still inspired her. 

In the year 1766 Elizabeth Christina lost her friend Madame 
de Camas. This lady was also much valued by the King ; he 
used often either to write to her, or to inquire after her health 
by the name of " la petite maman " in his letters to the Queen ; 
but her loss was principally felt by the latter, for they had had 
a common feeling on the most vital of all points the subject 
of religion. The Queen afterwards spent much time in the 
study of a book which had afforded consolation to the last hours 
of Madame de Camas; in order to impress it more deeply upon 
her mind, she began the work of translating it into French ; 
when finished she had it printed, under the title of "Le Chre- 
tien dans la Solitude," and dedicated it to her brother. This 
was the first of the series of publications which emanated from 
the pen of the Queen of Prussia, but she afterwards frequently 
employed her leisure in writing ; chiefly, her works were trans- 
lations of her favourite authors. In 1778, at the commence- 
ment of the war of the Bavarian succession, she published a 
pamphlet entitled " Reflexions sur PEtat des Affaires publiques 
en 1778, adressecs auxPersonnes craintives." This little work 


was intended as a call to rouse the patriotism of the people, and 
stimulate their attachment towards the King.* Her writings 
were generally signed " Constance/' in allusion to the name of 
" Constant" borne by Frederic in his "Bayard's Order" at 
Rheinsberg. A copy of each of her works was handsomely 
bound and sent to the King, who allotted them a conspicuous 
place in his library, and who in return always presented her with 
a copy of each of his own writings as they issued from the press. 

Frederic never visited the Queen during the latter period of 
his life, except once a year upon her birthday, when he always 
dined at her house, and for that one day in the year left off his 
boots, appearing in black silk stockings, which, being un gar- 
tered, hung in folds about his legs.f What a contrast was pre- 
sented by the slovenly, snuff- besmeared, J stooping figure of 
Frederic in his old age, to the gay young cavalier, so fastidious 
in his attire, whom her fancy delighted to recall in the halcyon 
days of Rheinsberg ! 

But although he visited her thus seldom, it was observed that 
her happiness and welfare were an object of solicitude to him 
and that he was always anxious and uneasy if she was reported 
to be indisposed. This was the case at the time of the visit of 
the Archduke Paul of Russia, on his marriage to the Princess of 
Mecklenburg, when the Queen was ill and unable to receive 
them : on another occasion when he heard that she was seriously 
unwell, he wrote instructions to his own medical man to go to 

* She translated also the "Odes," and some other poems of Gfellert, and 
several other works. 

t Thiebault. 

J Frederic took snuff in immense quantities in his old age ; his valets-de- 
chambre were said to gain a considerable perquisite by shaking it from his 
handkerchiefs and clothes. Malmesbury's Despatches. When Dr. Moore visited 
Berlin in 1779, he went to see Sans Souci ; he was asked if he would also wish 
to see the King's wardrobe. On the display of "two blue coats faced with red, 
the lining of one a little torn, two yellow waistcoats a good deal soiled with 
Spanish snuff, three pair of yellow breeches, and a suit of blue velvet" for State 
occasions, of remote fashion, but "still preserving all the vigour of youth," he 
imagined that these "old rags " were considered interesting as relics of Frederic's 
campaigns ; great, therefore, was his astonishment when told that, with the 
exception of a suit or two at Potsdam, this was the whole extent of the King's 
wearing apparel. 


her immediately, and to take the opinions of two other physicians, 
in whom he had most confidence, on her case, and also to re- 
member " qu'il s'agit de la personne la plus chere et la plus 
necessaire a Petal, aux pauvres et k moi." 

Amongst the travellers who visited Berlin during the latter 
part of the reign of Frederic the Great was Dr. Moore, the 
English tourist. He thus describes a reception of the Queen 
at Schonhausen, at which he was present (in 1779): "The 
Queen has one Court-day in the week, when the Princes, no- 
bility, and foreign ambassadors wait upon her, at five o' clock. 
After she has made the tour of the circle, and said a few words 
to each, she seats herself at the card-table. The Queen has 
her own table, and each of the Princesses has one. The rest 
of the company shows itself a moment at each of these card- 
tables, and then the attendance for the day is over, and they 
walk in the garden, or form other card-tables in the other 
rooms, as it pleases them, and return to Berlin at dusk. Some- 
times the Queen invites a good many of them to supper, and 
then they remain till midnight. These are the only assemblies 
where one meets the Berlin ladies in summer." He also re- 
marks, that the ladies of Berlin very much resemble French- 
women in the ease and grace of their manners. 

From the allusions to her debts in some of Elizabeth Chris- 
tina's letters, it may have been gathered that her income was 
not a very liberal one. Hence we find frequent allusions to 
the sparing nature of these supper entertainments at Schon- 
hausen, where the tables were so much more profusely supplied 
with plate than with eatables, that people were obliged to sup 
again on their return home. Thiebault says, that upon one 
occasion the Marechale von Schmettau, who, as an invalid, had 
been particularly recommended by the Queen to the care of her 
attendants, only succeeded in obtaining one preserved cherry 
for her supper ! Amongst strangers especially, it of course, 
excited great surprise, that, these being the only Court assem- 
blies in Berlin, the Queen should not be enabled to hold them in 
a more splendid manner, and many were the jokes which arose 


in consequence. " The Queen must have a grand gala to- 
night," said Charpentier ; " I saw an old lamp lighted on the 
staircase as I passed !" 

During the latter years of Frederic II. 's life the economy 
which he had found it necessary to practise during the stress 
of war, had not only settled into a habit, but had degenerated 
into absolute parsimony. He carried his saving propensities to 
almost as great an extent of eccentricity as his father had done ; 
upon state entertainments, says Malmesbury, he not only pre- 
scribed the number and quality of the dishes, but even gave 
directions for the number and size of the wax-candles to be 
employed, " so great was his Prussian Majesty both in small and 
great affairs." Malmesbury himself (then Mr. Harris,) saw the 
King, at an entertainment given on occasion of the Prince of 
Dessau's marriage, engaged ' ' in directing the servants in light- 
ing up the ball-room, and telling them where and how to place 
the candles, whilst during the performance of this operation the 
Queen and the royal family were waiting, literally in the dark, 
as His Majesty did not begin this ceremony until supper was 
finished, and no one presumed to give orders that it should be 
done ;" " all the other apartments, except those immediately 
dedicated to supper or cards, were lighted by one single candle, 
whilst the supper itself was badly served, and without dessert, 
the wines bad, and the quantity of them stinted ; I asked, after 
dancing, for some wine and water, and was answered, ee The 
wine is all gone, but you can have some tea." And these petty 
savings were not carried on only in the private circle of the 
royal family, or in " public entertainments where such restric- 
tions might be allowable, but in those at which foreign minis- 
ters and strangers were received." 

The same author states that the King's economy very much 
restricted his hospitality, even to his own family ; thus, when 
the Queen Dowager of Sweden once "les beaux yeux"* of 

* "Les beaux yeux" was now an old woman, and, according to Thiebault, 
though an amiable, not an inviting person ; but she was accompanied by a very 


Seckendorf J s journal, the fair Princess Ulrica, whom we saw 
weeping so bitterly on leaving her home for her distant Swedish 
bridegroom and Court, paid a visit to Berlin during Harris's 
sojourn there, the King, at the expiration of the time he had 
allotted for the duration of her stay, told her how grieved he 
was to bid her farewell, and discharged her temporary maitre 
de cuisine ! 

But " great " as his Prussian Majesty "was in little things," 
we can carry no further, with regard to him, the quotation of 
his remark upon his grandfather, for he was never " little in 
great ones." He had returned to Berlin, after the close of the 
Seven Years' War, in many respects an altered man. Privation 
and hardship seem, from his youth up, to have had a peculiarly 
hardening and narrowing effect upon his disposition. We find 
him in his old age confirmed in his selfishness ; suspicious even 
of the intimate associates and, so called, friends of years; 
capricious, irritable, sarcastic and heartless in his intercourse 
with them ; artfully drawing them into some injudicious ex- 
pression of opinion, some too gross flattery, in order to turn it 
against them, and insult them vilely, whilst they dared make 
no reply. Even D'Argens, the tried friend of thirty years, met 
with the most biting sarcasms, the cruellest slights, from him. 

charming and beautiful young princess, her daughter, who was said strikingly to 
resemble the portraits of the beautiful Queen Sophia Charlotte. During their 
visit, Formay, the author of "Mem. d'un Citoyen," one of the pastors of the 
French colony, a "licensed chatterbox," but most terribly indiscreet and devoid 
of tact in his chatterings, on the Queen of Sweden asking him whether he was 
going to the play, replied that he had no ticket. She soon after sent him one by 
the hands of her fair young daughter, and Formay, to the great amusement of all 
present, exclaimed with empressement, ' ' Que le bon Dieu vous le rende dans son 
saint paradis !" Thiebault relates, that the Queen of Sweden having a desire to 
put the astonishing powers of the visionary Swedenborg (then Conseiller des mines 
in Sweden), to the test, asked him to repeat to her the words which had passed 
between her and her brother, Prince William at their last interview, and which 
were known to no other living person. After a short interval he repeated to 
her the very words which her brother had said to her, together with the 
exact circumstances, place and time of the interview. Souvenirs de Vingt 


The only person who seems to have received constant and 
unvarying kindness at his hands was his sister Amelia ; whether 
this might have been, as Thiebault suggests, from a tender 
desire to make up to her the long years of trial and sorrow she 
had endured on account of her unfortunate attachment to 
Baron Trenck, it is difficult to say. The above-mentioned 
author gives a somewhat detailed account of this mysterious 
affair ; but a brief summary is all that my space admits of 
here, and I must add that Thiebault cannot always be relied 
upon for perfect accuracy. He says that the Swedish proposals 
of marriage were at first intended for the Princess Amelia, but 
that she having conscientious scruples, on the score of the 
necessary change of religion, acquainted her sister Ulrica with 
her repugnance to the proposed union. The Princess Ulrica 
advised her to assume the appearance of caprice and hauteur, 
which advice she followed, and it having been part of the 
Swedish ambassador's instructions to observe both the Prin- 
cesses, especially with regard to manner and temper, he 
transferred the suit to Ulrica, and she, having no religious 
scruples, accepted willingly. Her sister Amelia, notwithstanding 
her own professed dislike to the match, was greatly incensed 
at this transfer, and out of pique, on the occasion of her sister's 
marriage, bestowed a scarf on the handsome young Trenck, 
who had had the gold fringe stolen from his, in the crowd. 
Trenck reciprocated the inclination manifested for him by the 
Princess; their interviews were carried on clandestinely, but 
rumours of what was going on reached the King's ears. Trenck 
was put under military arrest time after time, as a quiet means 
of marking the King's displeasure. But the lovers were too 
blinded by passion to take the intended hint. The King then 
sent Trenck on a mission to Vienna, in order to remove him 
from the vicinity of the Princess ; but on his return, his visits 
to her were resumed. The King's anger was roused at this per- 
sistence in folly. He said to Trenck, when he presented himself 
on his return, " Where were you before you started ? " " Under 


arrest, your Majesty." " Indeed ! then return to arrest." At 
length Trenck was imprisoned on a charge of having betrayed 
the plans of Prussian fortresses to Austria. On this, his 
mother applied to Frederic, who told her that if the young man 
would return to his proper duties, his case was not desperate. 
But Trenck, meanwhile, had made his escape from confinement, 
by leaping from the prison walls, and then carrying the com- 
panion of his flight, (who had his leg broken in the fall,) upon 
his back, past the Prussian frontiers. He was incautious in 
speech and behaviour after his escape ; suffered himself to be 
seized upon Prussian ground, and was again and more strictly 
imprisoned. He was afterwards set at liberty, by the interces- 
sion of the Empress Maria Theresa.* 

Grief and disappointment at the unhappy results of her ill- 
omened passion seem to have partially disordered the rnind of 
the Princess Amelia. She fell ill, and is said wilfully to have 
misapplied the remedies prescribed by her medical attendants, so 
that she nearly lost her sight in consequence. Thiebault and 
Wraxhall describe her appearance as something frightful ; her 
eyes were nearly " starting from her head ;" her palsied limbs 
appeared as if they could scarcely support her attenuated body, 
her voice was hollow and sepulchral. Her disposition also 
seems to have been completely altered. She had not a good 
word to say of any one. Prince Henry used to call her " la 
fee malfaisante." We are led to conclude that her mind must 
have been shaken, from various circumstances. At the time that 
the royal family were necessitated to escape to Magdeburg in 
such haste that the court-yard was strewn with all sorts of pre- 
cious articles, hurriedly flung from the windows, because there 
was no time to remove them in any other way, the Princess 

* Trenck afterwards married ; lie is said to have forced Ms bride, on the night 
of the wedding, to confess some indiscretion of which he had heard she had been 
guilty, by threatening to shoot her on the spot if she did not ; but he proved a 
very affectionate husband afterwards. He and the Princess Amelia met but once 
after his liberation, in the old age of both. Trenck was guillotined during the 
revolution in France. 


Amelia appeared " glittering with diamonds and radiant with 
joy." Her most intimate friend, Madame de Kleist, was 
obliged to remain at Berlin with her sick mother. "What," 
said the Princess, " are you not going with us ?" t( My mother 
is ill, and I cannot leave her," said her friend. " But, my dear, 
these Russians are savages, they will pillage and burn every- 
thing ; they will certainly kill you, and your death will not save 
your mother." Madame de Kleist still replied, that, do what 
they would, she could not leave her mother. "If it be so," 
said the Princess, " I shall see you no more, so adieu, my dear 

It is said that during the Seven Years' War, she used to pass 
day after day in having the fortune of the cards f consulted for 
her brother, who, though he was by far too rational and philo- 
sophical to believe in a revealed religion, appears to have been 
not altogether superior to the influence of superstition. The 
Princess was much disliked at Berlin, and was looked upon as 
the King's spy. Her brother, however, constantly showed her 
the kindest consideration in all imaginable ways during the 
whole of his reign. She died in 1787, aged sixty-four. After 
the peace of Hubertsburg, although Frederic kept a vigilant eye 
upon the proceedings of the foreign Powers, he had no call to 
divert his attention from the internal administration of his king- 
dom, until the Russian designs upon Poland roused him to put 
in his claim for a share of the spoil. There could be no ques- 
tion as to the admirable policy, nor as to the abominable morality 
of this step, but that was nothing to Frederic the Great. 
Austria was obliged to consent ; and Poland, unhappy, rent by 
divisions, ready for any one to pick up who would take the 
trouble to stoop for it,J like a wounded fawn, fell a victim to 
those fierce birds of prey, the double-headed eagles of Russia 
and Austria, and the black eagle of Prussia. 

* See Thiebault. + Ibid. 

The Empress Catherine said of Poland, "II n'y a qu'a se baisser et en 



This was, or rather should have been, the Augustan age of 
literature and science at Berlin. With a King who wrote 
and a Queen who wrote, what could the subjects do but 
write ? Nevertheless, the literature of Berlin was a foreign, 
not a German literature. French was the language of the 
Court, of the nobility, of the tradespeople; only the very 
vulgar people, the canaille, spoke German, it was vulgar almost 
to understand it : what did it matter that foreign French 
is always barbarous, and that German French is particularly so ? 
Frederic William tried hard, like a plain, honest man as he was, 
to make his people speak their own language ; certainly the 
half French, half Platt-Deutsch jargon he made use of himself 
was not particularly elegant still it was better than a wholly 
foreign tongue, crippled and halting with bad accent and insuf- 
ficient freedom, into the bargain, and his attempt does him 
honour. Frederic II. spoke French and wrote French ; nearly 
all his literati were French ; he allowed, indeed, that it was a 
pity German was not more cultivated, but he did not cultivate it 
himself; and therefore, as yet, the most enlightened Court in Ger- 
many had no literature of its own. Nevertheless, though thus 
neglected by royalty, the German language was about to assert 
itself; close at hand was the rising of a glorious constellation 
of genius, which was to claim for German writers a rank amongst 
the classics of the world : Kleist,* the soldier poet, who defended 
his mother tongue, by making it the medium for noble thoughts, 
and his country, by laying down for it his heroic life, was one of 
the forerunners of the advent of Goethe and Schiller ; and hence- 
forward a long list of brilliant names graces the annals of Ger- 
man literature. 

But there was another strange feature apparent amidst the 
prevailing enlightenment and intelligence of the time. Morality 

* Kleist was wounded at Kiinersdorf ; he was plundered and stripped as he lay 
in a trench ; he remained all night in his blood, half covered by water ; a party of 
the enemy then took compassion on him, and gave him careful tendance, but he 
died of his wounds ; he was buried with funeral honours, an officer in the Austrian 
service laying his own sword upon the coffin. 


had literally taken French leave. No one knew where to find 
her in Germany, all agreed that she did not exist in Berlin.* 
Frederic the Great did not much care for that. He had laughed 
at both religion and morality in his writings ; if the plants liked 
to grow in his lands, it was all very well j he would not interfere 
with them, nor would he cultivate them. But religion and 
morality are delicate plants, and will not grow without culture, 
whilst all sorts of noxious and filthy weeds soon spring up and 
choke them ; and so it was in Prussia, especially in Berlin. It 
was fashionable to be irreligious, sceptical, atheistic the King 
was all these : it was equally fashionable to be immoral, sensual, 
frightfully vicious ; if the King was not all these, at least he did 
not disapprove of his subjects being so. But. by-and-by resulted 
a consequence which Frederic had never dreamed of. There 
arose an emergency, at the time when Austria endeavoured to 
add Bavaria to her possessions, and Frederic found it good policy 
to maintain the cause of the helpless heir-at-law, which rendered 
it necessary for his armies once more to take the field. The old 
King was ready as ever to lead his troops, but his troops were 
not ready as ever to be led; they were either inefficient old men, 
or else effeminate young ones, equally inefficient ; they fell off, 
and deserted in multitudes. Frederic was amazed, confounded, 
enraged ; f could this be the army at the head of which he had 
performed such wonders ? 

With all his genius and his wisdom, Frederic the Great was 
not prepared to find, that, having sown carefully, and watered 
diligently the seeds of infidelity and vice, the plants had sprung 
up luxuriantly, and brought forth an hundredfold, corruption, 
effeminacy, disease, and all other rank and baleful offspring. 

So Frederic grew more distrustful of, and disgusted with 
mankind, because he had helped to make them worse than they 
were before, and betook himself more than ever to the society of 

* See on this subject Malmesbury's Despatches, Forster's "Neuere undNeueste 
Geschichte ;" Vehse's " Preussischen Hof ;" Von Coin's " Vertraute Brief e," &c. 
t See " Vertraute Brief e." 

u 2 


his pet dogs ; sentimentalised over them when they died, and 
wanted to be buried with them.* Doubts seemed to have 
crossed the King's mind from time to time, whether he might 
not have been a better and a happier man, and whether Prussia 
might not have been a better and a happier country, if he had 
been contented to live like a Christian and a human being, the 
husband of a loving Christian wife ; but he silenced the doubts, 
and those who aroused them by saying, " It is too late now."f 
And so, worn out by old age, hard service, gout and dropsy, and, 
as he wrote to his sister Amelia, "forsaken by all the world," J 
Frederic the Great passed his latter days, cheered by no hope 
beyond the grave to which he was declining, a much less 
enviable man than the aged pauper in the workhouse, who finds 
that " the Lord hath made his bed in his sickness," and knows 

* The King always looked with suspicion on any one at whose entrance his dogs 
barked or growled ; balls for them to play with lay about in his apartments ; the 
curtains and furniture were always in tatters from the dogs delighting to tear 
them ; they had a coach to themselves when the King travelled, and an attendant 
who remonstrated with them courteously by the title of " Sie," when they were 
unruly, as "Seyn Sie doch Artig Alcmene. Bellen Sie nicht so Biche !" When 
any of them died, they were buried on the terrace at Sans Souci ; and Frederic de- 
sired that he might be laid beside them. 

t Madame de Kanneberg, the successor of Madame de Camas, remonstrated 
with Frederic on his never showing his thankfulness to the Almighty by going to 
a church. "It is," said she, "the only thing wanting to complete the reverence 
with which your Majesty's subjects regard you." He replied, "Perhaps I have 
been wrong ; perhaps, had I formerly had my present experience, I should have 
traced out a different plan from that which I have followed, but it is now too late ; 
any change would only produce grievous consequences, and no good could result 
from it." Once also, when he gave his consent to the marriage of one of his offi- 
cers, he spoke to him kindly, saying, "I too have a heart, but one must make 
sacrifices when one is a king. " Thiebault. Frederic always showed great respect 
for sincere piety in others. The Queen's gentle but firm persistence in her reli- 
gious duties, and her unswerving faith, were amongst the causes of his esteem for 
her. Once, too, when he used some scoffing words to old Ziethen, about the 
Sacrament, the venerable warrior stood up, bowed before the King, and said that 
though he had fought for him, and was ready to lay his grey head at his feet, yet 
he would not hear his Saviour blasphemed in his presence. The King rose from 
his seat, took Ziethen's hand in one of his, and, laying the other on his shoulder, 
said, "Happy Ziethen, I wish I could believe as you do ; I respect your faith, 
hold fast by it. This shall not happen again." 

J Malmesbury's Despatches. 


that the holy angels will bear his spirit into the rest of them 
fe who sleep in Jesus/" 

Thus, unattended in his last moments by any female hand 
for " no woman approached his death-bed/ 7 * and she who 
should have received his last breath and closed his eyes on this 
world, was left to suffer alone, at this unjust privation of 
even the last sad privileges of affection, uncheered by religious 
consolation, covered with filthy rags, which he would not allow 
to be changed, Frederic, the greatest King of Prussia, died in 
the arms of a hired servant, and was succeeded by an heir who 
squandered his treasures in riotous living, turned over the 
government to worthless favourites, and prepared the way 
for the dismemberment, in the next generation, of the king- 
dom which it had cost so much blood and treasure to consoli- 

Very different were the last days of Frederic's gentle Queen, 
who, like just Lot, " vexed her righteous soul from day to day 
with the unlawful deeds " of those around her, and who inter- 
ceded for her people unceasingly, that a better and purer 
time might arise. She lived, indeed, to see the dawning of 
that better time, but it needed many a stormy blast of adversity 
to sweep away the pestilential moral atmosphere which reigned 
in Prussia, and to substitute a freer and more wholesome cur- 
rent of thought, principle and action, in its room. 

The death of the husband, who, estranged, cold and isolated 
in his selfishness, as he chose to keep himself, had ever been to 
her the one star of her horizon, the thought of whom she had 
cherished so fondly even in the midst of the most cruel neglect, 
was a dreadful blow to her, although it had been long expected, 
for she had loved too well and too warmly, to lose without 
feeling that a dreary blank had been left in her life ; but she 
was comforted by the warm sympathy of her family and of her 
people, to all of whom, says Spalding, she was " so dear in her 
affliction." How lovingly her thoughts still dwelt upon the me- 
* WraxalTs " Memoirs of My Own Time." 


mory of her dead husband, and how she strove to screen him 
from reproach for his neglect of her, is shown by the letter, which, 
nine years after his death, she wrote to her nephew, Frederic 
William, his successor, in which she says, " Frederic the Great 
would have been adored for his great qualities had he been 
only a private individual ; all great Princes might take example 
from him ; he reigned like the true father of his people. He 
was a true friend himself, but he had many false ones, who, 
under the mask of attachment, separated him from those who 
were devoted to him heart and soul ; yet these deceitful persons 
caused him sorrow when he discovered their falsehood, and he 
rendered justice to his true friends without bringing them into 
notice, lest he should expose them to persecution. He was 
generous and beneficent, he maintained his position without 
hauteur , and in society he was like a private gentleman/' She 
saw her husband for the last time on the birthday of Prince 
Henry, the 18th of January ; Frederic's death took place on 
the 17th of August, 1786. He left an express provision for 
the Queen in his will, desiring that, in addition to the income 
which she already received, her revenue should be augmented 
by ten thousand Thalers annually, and that she should be pro- 
vided with wine, fire-wood, game and a constant residence at 
her pleasure in the castle; he also required that his nephew 
should render to the " Queen, my wife," " all such deference 
and respect as befit the widow of his uncle, and the character 
of a Princess who has never deviated from the paths of virtue/' 
Her life was, perhaps, scarcely so retired after her husband's 
death as it had been before. The new Queen was unfortunately 
wanting in some of that tact which is especially necessary in so 
important a station as hers, and " the Queen Dowager, who, 
by her circumspection and natural dignity," says Mirabeau,* 
" was of more importance than the Queen regnant," was often 
required to disentangle the twisted threads of court etiquette, 
or smoothe the ruffled dignity of some diplomatic functionary, 

* " Histoire Secrete de la Cour de Berlin." 


when Queen Louisa had unwittingly involved the one, or 
wounded the other. 

Besides such calls as these, the closest attention to the regu- 
lation of her own household, and the exercise of the most active 
benevolence, filled up Elizabeth Christina's days of quiet useful- 
ness.* The French colony, says Erman, looked to her as their 
benefactress, for it was through her intercession, and by her 
hand, that all benefits reached them. Her own attendants were 
the constant recipients of her kindness; her worthless old 
chamberlain, Baron Mtiller, who gamed away all his pension 
and his salary, and then begged, borrowed, almost stole, that 
he might still game ; who said that if an angel offered him 
health and youth on condition that he would play no more, he 
should have gamed on nevertheless, could not tire out her kind- 
ness by all his follies and all his vices. " Nay," said she, when 
advised to dismiss him, " who will take care of him if I do not ?" 
So she received his pension, bought his clothes, and allowed him 
still a little pocket-money for the indulgence of his inveterate 
habit.f She was always pleased to see the people enjoying 

* Spalding says of her, after her death, "that her memory will always be blessed 
as a touching example of the noblest mental qualities, the most enlightened and 
lively piety, and the most wonderfully active benevolence." She regularly spent 
more than half her income in charity ; the anecdote of the pearl necklace well 
illustrates the self-denial, by means of which she was enabled to do this. The 
Queen as a young woman was particularly partial to pearls as an ornament. A 
very beautiful necklace was once sent for her inspection by her jeweller. She 
much admired it, and wished to purchase it. One day in a leisure moment she 
ordered it to be brought out to look at. "It is very beautiful; I think I must 
have it," said she. "Why not, your Majesty?" said her ladies. "Surely you 
who do so much for others are entitled sometimes to indulge your own tastes." 
"No, no ; take it away, so that I may not see it; it pleases me, but I can do a 
great deal of good with the money it would cost." She would never allow any 
one to wait who required her help, if it was possible to avoid it, saying, that 
"late help was often no help at all." 

f Another of her attendants, the Obermarschall, Baron Von Voss, seems 
to have furnished much amusement to the Court by his stupidity. Malmes- 
bury says that when about to usher a stranger into the Queen's presence 
his constant address was, "Perhaps Her Majesty will speak to you; in 
that case you must answer her; and do not forget to' make her a bow 
each time." Morian, of whom Malmesbury relates, that when Sir Charles Wil- 


themselves, and gave particular orders to the gatekeeper to 
admit them to her gardens. If the promenades were not, as 
usual, thronged with citizens on Sundays or holidays, she was 
uneasy until she had sent down to see that the man had laid no 
restrictions upon their admission. It is pleasant to find her at 
the advanced age of sixty-seven, replanting the woods at 
Schonhausen, where the trees had been felled to sell, as timber, 
during the strain caused by war upon the finances, because, as 
she said, " though I shall never see the trees grow up, it will 
please me to watch the young plants, and to think that it will once 
more be as charming as it used to be, after I am gone." With 
the same kind feeling, and desire to improve the country and 
the people, she settled a little colony of Bohemian emigrants at 
Schonholz, near Schonhausen, with dwellings rent free, on con- 
dition that they should work in her gardens one day in each 

Beloved and respected by all, the latter part of Elizabeth 
Christina's pilgrimage was peaceful and happy. She was sought 
both by young and old; no young couple about the Court 
esteemed the day of their union one of entirely happy auspices, 
unless the good old Queen was present at the wedding ; no 
christening was duly performed unless her prayers joined with 
those of the pastor and parents, over the new-made Christian. 
She rejoiced at the letter- that her great nephew, Frederic Wil- 
liam, the crown Prince, sent her, to tell her how fair and gentle 
a Princess he was shortly to bring home as his bride ; and 
when Louisa of Mecklenburg Strelitz had arrived, and the 
marriage was about to take place, all the company went to the 
apartment of the aged Queen, to escort her to the White Hall, 

liams wrote him a letter recommending Lord Essex to his attention, and conclud- 
ing, "Vous pourrez etre sur que ce n'estpaslui qui a eu la tete coupSe dans le 
temps de la Reine Elizabeth," and who accordingly presented his lordship to the 
Queen with the words " Lord Essex, but I assure your Majesty it is not the same 
who was beheaded in the reign of Queen Elizabeth ! " was not Obermarschall to 
Elizabeth Christina, as the "Despatches" state, but to her predecessor, Sophia 
Dorothea. See Vehse. 


where, seated, in consideration of her great age, she beheld and 
blessed the union of her children, as she considered them. 
She even joined afterwards in the celebration of the torch- 
dance, though she begged to be excused from the succeeding 
balls and festivities, on the score of her infirmities. She lived 
to see only the beginning of that great continental convulsion, 
of which the French Revolution was the first fearful spasm. 
She wrote to her nephew, Frederic William II., then in camp at 
Frankfort, having recently heard of the murder of the French 
monarch " 8th Feb., 1793. I am still stunned by the fright- 
ful catastrophe which has taken place in Paris ; it is unheard of 
that men should have been found atrocious enough to pass such 
a sentence not only on an innocent man, but on their king, and 
that no defence should have been listened to. I cannot think 
of it without shuddering ; I hope and pray most earnestly that 
God will assist your Majesty and your allies to bring these 
maniacs to reason, and that an advantageous peace may result.'' 
On the 5th of March of the same year she thus again writes 
to her nephew " I must do the people of Berlin the justice to 
say that they generally show themselves patriots, and truly de- 
voted to you as their sovereign. One observes that the former 
opponents of government are no more ; people are patriotically 
disposed, and all is tranquil." 

After the return of the King and Princes from the French 
campaign, no further trouble chequered the peaceful days of 
Elizabeth Christina until the intelligence of the death of Prince 
Louis * reached her, and then she began to weep, saying, " I 
have lived long enough. I have much to be thankful for; but 
now my longer life would be but of little service to myself and 
others. It will be better with me above." She was ill but a 
few days. Her death was as calm and peaceful as her life had 
been. On the day of her decease she bestowed her blessing 
upon her attendants, saying affectionately, " I know you will 
not forget me." On the 13th day of January, 1797, (the anni- 
* Prince Louis died Dec. 28, 1796. 


versary of the death of her sister, the Princess of Prussia,) at 
the age of eighty-one, full of years and of honour, this humble 
Queen and gentle woman went to her rest at length. There 
were few dry eyes in Berlin that day. Kiister, in his funeral 
sermon, said of her, " The voice of impartial truth renders the 
deepest and most affectionate tribute of veneration to the long 
course of truly majestic and noble deeds which her life dis- 
played. I have been an observant witness of her conduct for 
fifty years, and, from year to year, my reverence for her has 
increased, and I thankfully praise God when I see how much 
good has been effected by Her Majesty's example and active 
exertions, both for the religion, education, hearts, manners and 
happiness of all classes " whilst Spalding says of ner that she 
was "not only a Queen, a great Queen, our Queen, but a 
Queen after God's own heart." With these testimonies to 
her worth and piety I terminate the memoir of Elizabeth 




UPON the rupture of the crown Prince's marriage in 1769, a 
fresh alliance was immediately sought for him amongst the 
Princesses of the various houses of Germany. It was said that 
he would have preferred his cousin, the daughter of the Mar- 
grave of Schwedt, one of the most beautiful women in Germany,* 
but that the lady declined the honour of the connection. 
Another cousin was then proposed to him, Sophia Albertina, 
sister of the King of Sweden.f Here, however, the objection 
arose with himself, for he felt no prepossession in her favour, 
and desired that proposals might not be made.J At length 
the Princess Frederiea Louisa of Hesse Darmstadt was selected 
as the future crown Princess of Prussia. She was the daughter 
of one of the few women to whom Frederic the Great accorded 
the honour of his admiration and esteem ; to her talents he 
paid the most flattering tribute, calling her " the ornament and 
admiration of the age," " a woman in sex, but a man in intel- 
lect;'^ the Princess's father was Louis IX., Landgrave of 
Hesse Darmstadt. But though Frederic estimated so highly 
the character of the Landgravine Caroline, he did not regard 
her daughter with any measure of the same sentiments. The 

* Afterwards Landgravine of Hesse Cassel. 

f Daughter of Frederic's sister, Ulrica, Queen of Sweden. She became Abbess 
of Quedlinburg after the death of her aunt, the Princess Amelia, 1787. 

t Wraxall. 

He erected a memorial to her in the Schloss-garteii at Darmstadt, with the 
inscription, " Foemina sexu, ingenio vir." 


fresh marriage was solemnized so speedily after the invalidation 
of the old one, that the sight of the Princess Louisa recalled to 
his mind the disgrace of his unhappy niece, and excited a com- 
parison between that Princess and her successor by no means 
flattering to the latter, for she was possessed neither of the 
beauty, the grace, nor the talents, which had made Elizabeth of 
Brunswick so great a favourite with him. Nevertheless, she is 
described as having been endowed with qualities of such sterling 
value as ought to have atoned for all mere external deficiencies. 
Wraxall says of her, " She is an amiable, virtuous, and pleasing 
woman, possessing, indeed, neither the personal attractions, nor 
the graces of her predecessor, but exempt from her errors and 
defects. She is of the middle size, her countenance agreeable, 
though not handsome, her manners easy and engaging, her 
character estimable and formed to excite universal respect." 
Those who knew her best, and were most constantly in her 
society, described her as a person of rational and sensible views, 
though not gifted with brilliant talents ; " her understanding 
was solid, and her conversation was highly pleasing/' * She 
was still very young, being only eighteen at the time of her 
marriage in July, 1769. The fate of the unfortunate prisoner at 
Kustrindid not afford a happy augury of Louisa's domestic future, 
and from what has been already stated of the crown Prince's 
character and habits, it may be inferred that he was not likely 
to prove a good husband ; and, as Frederic II., moreover, made it 
sufficiently apparent that he had no friendly feeling towards 
her, having more than once mortified her in a public manner, 
and carefully avoided showing her any of those marks of favour 
and kindness which Elizabeth of Brunswick had enjoyed,t some 
idea may be formed of the difficult part which the crown Prin- 
cess was called upon to play. Her husband had the Prussians 
chosen their kings as the Israelites of old selected Saul, the 
son of Kish, might still have been selected to rule over the 
kingdom, for he was a head and shoulders taller than the rest 
* Wraxall's "Memoirs of the Court of Berlin," &c. f Ibid. 


of the people; but, goodliness of person excepted, he was no 
way fitted to be the ruler of a great nation. He was wholly 
given up to pleasure, and that of the lowest description ; so de- 
based, indeed, were his pursuits and his associates, that some 
persons even suspected the King of Prussia of wishing to be 
followed by an unworthy successor, in order to endear his own 
memory to his people.* 

Malmesbury describes him as more resembling a stout grena- 
dier than a great prince in his person, with nothing denoting 
talent in his countenance or manner ; his bearing was deficient 
in dignity, and he was reserved and silent; some attributed this 
to the restraint under which he was kept by his uncle, who 
despised him ; some to the fact that he had nothing to say, 
since, even in the company which he most affected, where, 
amongst his low associates he forgot that he was a prince, 
he only testified his own hilarity by urging them to become 
more uproarious. His faults, however, all seem to have been 
of the head, and not of the heart ; he was naturally affectionate 
and kindly disposed, and would not wilfully have inflicted pain 
on any one, but so greatly, say the " Vertraute Briefe," " did his 
body outweigh his intellect, that his passions ran away with his 
judgment." He was incapable of exercising the smallest self- 
control over his inclinations. Weakly good-natured, he allowed 
those to whom he was attached, to rule him completely ; and 
unfortunately, they were generally persons who made use of their 
power to serve their own interests, and not those of the 

During the war of the Bavarian succession, it seemed as if 
there might have been the materials for a soldier in him at 
least. Frederic was pleased with his conduct of the troops en- 
trusted to his command in the retreat ; he even embraced him 
publicly, saying, "I no longer look upon you as my nephew, 
but as my son, you have done all that I could have done all 
that could have been expected of the most experienced general 

* SeeVehse. 


in your place." But the King and his successor were men of such 
totally different characters in all respects, that no good under- 
standing could long exist between them. The crown Prince 
was allowed bat a slender income, his irregular habits rendered 
his expenses very heavy and he was constantly in the utmost per- 
plexity for money. The King was well aware of these circum- 
stances, and the auguries he drew from them, as to the fate of 
Prussia under his nephew's administration were not far from 
the truth. He said to Hoym, his minister in Silesia, shortly 
before his death, " Farewell, I shall see you no more. I will 
tell you how things will go after my death. It will be a jovial 
life at Court, my nephew will squander the treasure and ruin 
the army. The women will govern, and the State will founder. 
Then go you to the King and say ' This will not do, the trea- 
sure belongs to the country and not to you/ and if he is angry 
tell him that I commanded it. Perhaps this may be of use, for 
he has not a bad heart do you hear ? " But Hoym was a 
politic man as well as his old master, and he heard, but did not 
administer this legacy of advice.* 

Frederic William II. was forty-two years of age when he 
ascended the throne in 1786 a time of life at which he might 
have been supposed to have outlived the follies of his youth. 
Indeed, for a time people began to think that he had done so ; 
he forsook his old haunts, punctually attended to business, 
rising at four, and retiring to rest at ten. Mirabeau writes in 
two of his despatches, " If he perseveres, he will be the only 
example of a man who has conquered a habit of thirty years' 
standing. In this case he has a great character, which will 
outwit us all." But this fair beginning was but a delusive and 
transitory appearance. There was no real change in the King ; 
he soon fell back into his former habits, spent his days and 

* Frederic the Great appointed Hoym to be his minister in Silesia, partly on 
account of his insinuating manners, which gained him much favour with the 
women; the flourishing condition of Silesia showed the wisdom of the selection 
in other respects. " Vertraute Briefe." 


nights upon his pleasures, and allowed the government to take 
its chance, quietly turning over to his favourite, Bischofswerder, 
any impertinent claims of business, or public affairs, which might 
have interfered with his pursuits and such pursuits they were ! 
For many years his principal female favourite had been Madame 
Rietz ; she had pleased the crown Prince as Wilhelmina Encke 
when very young; he had undertaken to educate her himself; 
he had written a promise never to be separated from her, in 
his own blood. Frederic II. insisted, either that his nephew 
should give her up, or that she should be married, as a 
cloak to the scandal which his connection with her excited : a 
man was found vile enough to lend his name for such a pur- 
pose, and she became Madame Rietz. Rietz was a mean, servile 
wretch, kicked and cuffed, or treated with undue familiarity, as 
suited the Prince's humour, and retaliating upon all whom he 
dared to bully.* Madame Rietz is described by Malmesbury 
as being " large in her person, loose in her attire, and spirited 
in her looks ;" giving, in short, the idea of a perfect bacchante. 
Von Colin says that her person was " faultlessly beautiful ;" 
she maintained her empire over the King throughout the whole 
of his life, perhaps because she seldom let him feel the rein. 
For her alone does Frederic William seem ever to have enter- 
tained anything like a true affection ; yet he was by no means 
constant even to her. At the time of his accession he was 
paying most assiduous court to the Fraulein Julie von Voss, 
niece of the Queen Dowagers Oberhofmeister. She was not 
handsome, neither was she clever; f her chief charac- 
teristic was a sort of Anglo-mania, which made her think it 

* A story is told of his once indulging in this propensity when on a journey ; 
he railed and swore at everything and everybody at an inn on the road, where he 
stopped at night, to the great terror of the servants, when suddenly the landlord's 
deep, bass voice was heard exclaiming, "Who wants to give orders here besides 
me ? The devil fly away with him ! Witt the shoeblack get into his carriage ? " 
Not another sound was heard from the doughty Rietz; he crept softly into his 
carriage, and there remained trembling in the dark, until horses were brought, for 
him to continue his journey. " Yertraute Brief e." 

t Mirabeau Dampmartin. 


" absurd to be a German/' and gained her the name of " Miss 
Bessy" at Court. Her attraction for the King, was that she 
received his advances coldly ; but she was persuaded by Count 
Finckenstein, who wished to place her as a relative of his own, 
in the influential post now held by Madame de Rietz, that it was 
her duty to " sacrifice herself for the country/'' if by so doing 
she could withdraw the King from the society of the unprin- 
cipled persons who now surrounded him. At length, having 
salved her conscience by the stipulation that the Queen's consent 
should be gained to a left-handed marriage with the King, 
Fraulein von Voss consented to listen to his suit, and to become 
Frederic William's fourth living wife,* although he was no 
Mussulman, and Prussia was not a country where polygamy 
was recognised by law. 

It seems strange that it should be necessary to commence the 
memoir of one of the Queens of Prussia by the introduction of 
characters such as these ; but, unfortunately, their history is so 
mixed up with that of the Queen that it is impossible to separate 
them. With these, and other rivals in her husband's affections, 
it may be imagined how little power was enjoyed by the legiti- 
mate consort of Frederic William II. It is true, as Wraxall 
remarks, that if Louisa " had not captivated the affections, or 
secured the constancy of her husband, she possessed at least his 
esteem, and received from him every proof of respect." Yet 
each of the women, who, for the time being, made a slave of the 
sensual King, obtained far more influence, both over him and 
over the government, than the Queen was ever, for a moment, 
allowed to dream of exercising. Mirabeau says that "no Queen 
of Prussia of all Queens the least influential was ever so un- 
influential" as the consort of Frederic William II. During 
the long period between her marriage and her husband's acces- 
sion, she had constantly resided at Potsdam, in the most mo- 
notonous and wearisome seclusion, neglected by her husband, 
slighted by the King, and seldom allowed even the diversion of 

* Mirabeau. 


a visit to Berlin. Her position was little if at all improved 
after she became Queen. At the time when she held her first 
drawing-room she had not seen the King for six weeks not on 
account of absence, for they were constantly within a few miles 
of each other, nor of misunderstanding or intentional unkind- 
ness, for he did not intend to wound her, but she was accus- 
tomed to see but little of him as a general rule. 

Her eldest son, Frederic William, was bora in 1770. This 
event gave her some little importance for the time being ; her 
mother was with her upon the occasion. We find the Land- 
gravine writing to the King of the infant's beauty and preco- 
cious intelligence, and relating his early juvenile exploits. The 
child became a favourite with his great uncle as he grew older, 
and he liked to have him near him ; one day, in his play, the 
boy threw his ball by accident several times on to the King's 
writing-table; it was returned once or twice; at last Frederic 
put it in his pocket. The child asked for it, but received no 
answer ; he then said, in a determined tone, " Will you give 
me my ball or not ? " The King gave back his ball and said, 
well pleased, " You will not let Silesia be taken from you." 

After his birth his mother soon sank back into her former 
unimportance, and thus matters stood on the death of the King. 
Almost the first moments of her accession to the title of Queen 
were distracted by the above-mentioned demand for her consent 
to her husband's taking Fraulein von Voss as his second, or rather 
se?m-legitimate, wife. It is easy to imagine the domestic posi- 
tion of a wife whose husband would dare to allow such a pro- 
position to be made to her as that on which the quasi virtue of 
Fraulein von Voss insisted. 

The unhappy Queen had no choice save to submit, but it was 
a hard struggle, and it was long before she could bring her 
mind to it. The Duke of Saxe Weimar, her brother-in-law,* 
was entrusted with the honourable office of negotiator, and it 
was observed that the King, after having received him with 

* He had married her sister Louisa. 


great cordiality, gradually began to treat him with coldness and 
disfavour ; it was supposed, therefore, that he was either an 
unfaithful or an unsuccessful ambassador.* At length, worn 
out and disgusted beyond endurance, Louisa exclaimed, laugh- 
ing bitterly, " Oh, yes ! I will give my consent, but it shall be 
dearly paid for!" She therefore stipulated that the King 
should pay her debts, which were considerable, amounting to 
one hundred thousand crowns. f 

During the progress of this disgraceful affair, the German 
theatre gave " Inez de Castro," for many nights in succession ; 
it was observed that the Queen, each time, retired during the 
performance of the fourth act, where the Prince makes vows of 

passionate love to the maid of honour. People wondered 

whether this was accident or design on the part of Her Majesty ! 
" It is difficult to determine," says Mirabeau, " on account of 
the turbulent and versatile, but not particularly weak, character 
of this Princess, whether she acted thus intentionally or not." 

The palace was in a wretched state of confusion, as may be 
supposed ; the King left his duties unperformed, and every one 
else, even down to the lowest functionaries, thought himself, 
privileged to do the same, for the disorganization being radical, 
there was no one head to look after the rest. The Queen's 
household was as ill-managed as every other detail of the 
whole administration; her husband had annoyed her by contra- 
vening every arrangement she wished to make with regard to 
it, on first assuming the rank of Queen. Her income was only 
fifty-one thousand crowns per annum ; she was generous in her 
tastes and somewhat profuse in her habits; this sum was 
therefore wholly inadequate to defray her expenses; some- 
times she was without even the most common necessaries. 
Mirabeau relates, that upon one occasion there was no wood to 
supply the fires in her apartments ; the steward of her house- 
hold had recourse to the same officer in the King's establish- 
ment, but he replied that his own supply was so limited that 
* Mirabeau's "Hist. Secrete." t Ibid. 


he could not spare any. Thus harassed by petty annoyances 
such as these, and constantly involved in pecuniary difficulties 
in her own necessary expenditure,, whilst her husband was squan- 
dering at least thirty thousand Thalers annually on one mistress, 
and allotting a considerable income to another, she tried in 
vain to shut her eyes upon the causes which were rendering 
her wretched. Under such circumstances it is not strange that 
Queen Louisa should have sometimes failed in the graces and 
courtesies which should have embellished her demeanour in the 
Court circle. Mirabeau makes harsh mention* of the uninten- 
tional offence given by her on her first Court day, to Monsieur 
d'Esterno, the French minister. The Princess Frederica of 
Prussia, her step -daughter, had arranged the card-tables upon 
this occasion according to the received etiquette, that the 
Queen should play only with subjects ; but on being asked to 
name the gentlemen who should form her table, forgetful of 
these stringent rules, Louisa named the Austrian and Russian 
ministers. Monsieur d'Esterno, considering that his own exclu- 
sion ought to be resented as an insult to his country, declined 
to seat himself at the Princess's table, and left the room. 
Many were the consultations held on this important conjuncture, 
for it was feared that the King would be very angry. Mirabeau 
proposed that recourse should be had to the Queen Dowager, 
but she was in the first days of her mourning for her husband, 
and could not be asked to hold an assembly so soon. The 
Queen therefore wrote a letter addressed to Count Finckenstein, 
but intended to be read to M. d'Esterno, in which she ex- 
pressed her regret, desiring that her " excuses" should 
be made to him, and begging that the King might not be 
informed of what had taken place ; but it was thought insuffi- 
cient, the offence having been public, that the excuses should be 
private. The ceremony of receiving homage shortly afterwards 
ensued, and the affair passed off. 

Unfortunately, amidst her many domestic discomforts, the 
* He calls her "the most gauche Princess in Europe. Hist. Secrtte. 

x 2 


Queen had never learned to take refuge in the society and 
education of her children, of whom she had now six, four sons 
and two daughters; she was even much to blame for her 
neglect of their education. The " Vertraute Briefe" give a sad 
account of the mismanagement of these children ; I quote the 
passage : " Frederic William III. received the very worst of 
educations ; so beyond all measure bad as only that of a crown 
Prince can be. His father troubled himself more about his 
illegitimate than his legitimate children.* They were left to 
their mother. She, constantly embroiled with her finances, 
often did not see them for days together ; they were therefore 
left to the care of their attendants and of their misanthropic 
Hofmeister Benisch." This man was an irritable invalid, and 
if the young Princes ventured to become at all lively in their 
amusements, he would exclaim pevishly " You will kill me with 
your noise ! how I am tormented ! would that I had never been 
born!" and the like. Nevertheless, though placed under such 
unwholesome and cramping restrictions, both of mind and body, 
the young crown Prince, being gifted by nature with the most 
singular sincerity and sweetness of disposition, developed, as he 
advanced in years, a straightforward simplicity of character, 
which not even the shyness caused by the wretched system of 
constraint to which he was subjected, could subvert, and a depth 
of affection, which the harshness of Benisch himself could not 
prevent from clinging to him, and which no neglect on her part 
could alienate from his mother. 

The attachment also which subsisted between himself and his 
next brother Louis was something beautiful to look upon. They 

* The sum allotted for the maintenance of the household of the royal children 
was, like the rest of the arrangements for his legitimate family, exceedingly 
limited. Frederic William III. used to tell his children, when they received 
handsome birthday presents, of the less costly gifts which pleased him in his own 
childhood. "I used," said he, "to have a pot of mignonette worth three half- 
pence on my birthday, and when Benisch wished to reward me, he would take 
me to a public garden and give me a pennyworth, or if it was a grand occasion j 
two pennyworth of cherries." 


were always together as children, and when they grew up they 
were still inseparable. We find entries in the crown Prince's 
childish diary of how, after lessons, he and his brother " went 
to mamma, and were sent to play in the balcony," where he 
related stories to amuse the younger child; of going "with 
mamma in the carriage to a review," &c. ; but still the child 
was too young to understand his mother's trials, and his loving 
disposition afforded her then but little comfort ; but by degrees, 
as he grew up, she learned insensibly to rely upon the quiet 
strength and dignity of character which he possessed, and her 
son became her best support under some of the heaviest trials 
which she was ever called upon to submit to, towards the end of 
her husband's life. 

Towards the latter part of the reign of Frederic II., a sin- 
gular, rather than new element had been actively at work in 
men's minds throughout a great part of the civilized world, 
especially in Germany. This element was superstition, which 
at that time, as has been the case at intervals both before and 
since, seemed to become a sort of mental epidemic. This 
was the time when Cagliostro and the Count St. Germain were 
exciting so great a sensation in England, and other countries, 
and when Schropfer was raising spirits at Dresden, to the terror 
of the presumptuous Prince who had dared to question his power 
to make the dead obey the invocation of the living.* Probably 

* Schropfer had been obliged to leave Leipzig, having offended Prince Charles 
of Saxony. He then betook himself to Dresden, and his fame spread far and 
wide as an alchemist and theurgist. Prince Charles became curious, and apolo- 
gising for his former treatment of the ghost- seer applied to him to show him a 
proof of his power. After much apparent unwillingness Schropfer consented. 
The spirit summoned was to be that of the Chevalier de Saxe, the uncle 
of Prince Charles. The Prince- and his attendants were then admitted into 
a darkened room, the doors and windows were carefully secured; the adept 
retired to a corner, fell on his knees, and began his incantations. Loud and 
dreadful noises were shortly heard, as if in the air outside; this was followed by 
a sort of musical sound like that produced by musical glasses : this Schropfer said 
proceeded from his good spirits ; then arose fearful yells and shrieks, and finally 
the door burst open, and a sort of mysterious dark ball or globe rolled in, in the 
midst of which, the apparition of a countenance like that of the Chevalier de Saxe 


the recoil of men's minds from the overstrained tendency to 
scepticism and infidelity, which had lately been prevalent in 
Prussia, may account for the fact, that in this country, an error 
of a precisely opposite nature gained so firm a footing. This 
was shown by the formation of various secret orders and socie- 
ties, all inculcating more or less of mysticism, and belief in the 
intervention of supernatural powers, and accompanied by 
various mysterious ceremonies, cabalistic signs and strange- 
sounding titles. The principal of these secret societies was 
that of the Brethren of the Rosy Cross. They professed to 
derive the wisdom and supernatural powers to which they laid 
claim, from Enoch, Moses and Zoroaster, who, by means of the 
Knights of the Temple, had transmitted it to their founder, 
Christian Rosenkreutz. " They boasted/' says Forster, quoting 
from Nicolai, that (< their doctrines chained heaven to earth, and 
re-opened the barred road to paradise," and that the highest 
representative of their order was the " master of nature reposing 
in God the All-father." They affirmed that they were governed 
by secret heads or fathers, who bore mysterious names, lived 
in the most exalted purity, and enjoyed the power of constant 
communion with the spirits of the departed, not to mention 
that of making gold, and producing a wonderful elixir which 
was capable of restoring to old age the vigour and appearance 
of youth. 

The Jesuits, then in a state of abeyance, made use of this 
order to carry out their own views, and to endeavour to regain 
some portion of their former power. The Freemasons, to whose 
society both Frederic II. and Frederic William II. belonged, 
showed a tendency to adopt many of the mystical tenets of 

was visible, and a hollow, angry voice demanded, ' ' Was wolltest du mit mir Carl ? " 
Prince Charles forgot his incredulity, fell on his knees, and called on Heaven for 
mercy. All his attendants were equally terrified ; they besought Schropfer to 
dismiss the apparition. He feigned to be unable to do so. At last, after re- 
peated exorcisms, the spirit vanished; but hardly had it done so, before it 
again burst into the room as before. Schropfer at last, however, succeeded in 
dismissing it. WraxaWs "Court of Berlin," &c. 


the Kosicmcians. A subdivision arose, which combined the 
Jesuitical principle of implicit obedience to the secret fathers, 
with the Rosicrucian Freemasonry. At the head of this party 
were the Duke of Brunswick and his brother Ferdinand. This 
was the aristocratic and exclusive section, which was regulated 
by Jesuitical regulations, and directed by Jesuit " secret fathers," 
without being aware of the fact. In complete opposition to this 
sect the order of Illuminati, which was professedly democratic, 
excluding princes and rulers from membership, set itself up 
to teach enlightenment and liberality of sentiment to all, and 
especially to the middle and lower classes. This society, as 
well as many others of a similar kind, probably owed its rise 
to the manner in which Frederic the Great had entirely ex- 
cluded the burger class from all share in the government, thus 
leaving a large proportion of the intellectual element in his 
kingdom, either to run to waste, or to strikeout anew path for 
itself, which it was thus beginning to do. But so very liberal 
were the opinions which this order professed, that certain rulers 
began to fear they might at length include not only the institu- 
tions of religion, but also those of temporal sovereignty, in 
their ideas of illiberal restrictions upon the amelioration and 
improvement of the human race. The Illuminati were there- 
fore accused of treasonable practices and their order abolished, 
whilst the brothers of the Rosy Cross became very powerful.* 
To this society belonged King Frederic William's chief friend 
and confidant, Bischofswerder, and his associate, Wollner ; and 
it was through their order that these two men chiefly influenced 
the King. Bischofswerder had been a follower of the Rosicrucian 
Schropfer, who had made a disciple of the Duke of Courland, 
and creditors of a great many persons of less note, and who, 
having taught Bischofswerder his most wonderful secrets, 

* SeeForster, " Neuereund Neueste Preuss. Gesch." Vehse, &c. I have given 
a short account of the distinction between the societies of Rosicrucians and Illu- 
minati, because they have sometimes been confounded. Malmesbury speaks of 
the King of Prussia as belonging to the latter order, whereas in fact he was a dis- 
ciple of one of a very different tendency. 


how to obtain the elixir of youth ; the manner of rendering the 
spirits of the departed visible to the living, &c., &c., assembled 
all his most curious followers and most urgent creditors at 
Rosenthal, informed them that he was about, before their eyes, 
to betake himself to the world of spirits, whence he would return 
to bring wisdom to the former and money to the latter, and 
shot himself through the head ! 

Bischofswerder had become acquainted with the King whilst 
he was still crown Prince,* and had been high in his esteem 
ever since. He was not a man of great talent, nor of a malig- 
nant disposition ; but he was ambitious, although not in the 
usual way which leads men to grasp at office ; he was not an 
avaricious man, but his wife possessed that failing, and he was 
only her agent in many things which made him unpopular.f 
But he had possessed himself of the key to the King's charac- 
ter, and now exercised an extraordinary influence over him ; for 
" out of sensuality combined with mysticism, nets so subtle may 
be woven, as to be altogether indestructible to weak minds. "J 
In the meshes of this subtle net, the favourite had contrived to 
entangle the weak mind of Frederic William most helplessly. 
The principal use which he made of this influence, at first, was 
to attempt to displace Madame de Rietz, who had more power 
over the King than he liked, and who laughed at the Rosicru- 
cians and their mysticism. Once he seemed to be upon the 
point of obtaining his end. The means he employed were very 
ingenious ; Frederic William had hitherto been only a neophyte 
of the order of the Rosy Cross, Bischofswerder now promised 
to introduce him to the spiritual world. Forster relates that 
the Prince was summoned one day from the side of his beloved 
Wilhelmina, by Bischofswerder, who conducted him to a lonely 
house in a remote part of the town. Here he was placed in a 

* In the war of the Bavarian succession. 

+ As for instance, in enriching himself with the plunder of the confiscated estates 
in Poland, like Wollner and others of the avaricious Prussian ministry. 
t Schlosser; see Vehse. 


darkened chamber, where strange sweet perfumes, and low 
sounds of wild, weird music stole upon the senses, and lent an 
air of mystery to the scene. Here the Prince was asked with 
whose spirit he would wish to hold communion, and suggestions 
were at the same time artfully made to guide his selection to 
the shade of either Marcus Aurelius, the philosopher Leibnitz, 
or the great Elector, for which three personages suitable apparel, 
&c., had been prepared; but if he had not been content to behold 
the spirit of either of these great men, with rare ingenuity the 
performers were ready to make the same wig, crown and robes, 
serve for Louis XIV., Charlemagne, or Aristotle ! 

Having expressed his wish to hold intercourse with the spirit 
of his great ancestor, after the performance of many cabalistic 
ceremonies, accompanied by formulas of conjuration, of uncouth 
sound, the Prince was left alone for a considerable time, to 
await the appearance of the spirit. Frederic William was phy- 
sically brave, but, like many men of his type, spiritual terrors 
daunted him completely ; his nerves were therefore wrought up 
to the highest state of tension by this period of suspense, and 
when a shadowy form gradually developed itself before his eyes, 
his courage gave way altogether ; he had been told that he 
might question the illustrious shade, but his trembling lips 
refused to frame a sound ; and when the spectre proceeded to 
utter, in hollow tones, harsh reproaches upon his mode of life, 
and commands to forsake his paramour Madame de Rietz, his 
strength failed, his knees knocked together, a cold sweat bathed 
his forehead, and Bischofswerder was obliged to leave his post 
behind the scenes, and conduct him half-dead with terror to his 
carriage ; he asked to be taken back to his beloved, to recover 
from his exhaustion, but Bischofswerder would not listen to his 
request ; it was now night, and he was conveyed to the Assem- 
bly of the Brotherhood, where he was induced to take the 
oaths, and promised to give up Madame de Rietz. This pro- 
mise was not kept very long, but it greatly incensed that lady 
against Bischofswerder. She endeavoured frequently to over- 


throw him, but this was the only point upon which her influence 
was insufficient to rule Frederic William ; he always reply- 
ing " No, no, not Bischofswerder ; I will not listen to that."* 
At last she dared not even mention him. Each finding the 
other's position impregnable, the two adversaries changed their 
tactics, and made an alliance. Their power over the King then 
became boundless. 

During the last reign the King was everything, the ministers 
nothing. The case was exactly reversed in the new admi- 
nistration the King was nothing, the ministry all-powerful. 
Hertzberg was the leader of the Prussian Cabinet during the 
first part of Frederic William's reign ; he was a man of great 
ability and of upright views, but he wished to ally Prussia with 
France, to take a threatening position towards Austria and 
Russia, the growing power of which latter State he dreaded, and 
to give a constitution to Poland. Bischofswerder, on the con- 
trary, was well disposed towards Austria, and wished to enrich 
himself by the plunder of Poland (for the cupidity of her 
powerful neighbours was once more contemplating a fresh dis- 
memberment of that hapless country). Consequently Hertz- 
berg was thwarted and insulted into giving in his resignation 
in 1791, and thus Prussia lost the only sound and vigorous 
member of the Cabinet. Bischofswerder, although apparently 
taking no share in the government, was now the virtual King* 
of Prussia except that his wife governed him ! Next to him in 
power was his dependent Wollner, " the little king," as he was 
called a vulgar man, who made religion a cloak for his am- 
bition : he regulated the administration of the interior. Luc- 
chesini, a man devoid of principle, and Haugwitz, the humble 
servant of Madame de Rietz, had also considerable influence in 
their respective positions ; if any of the other ministers ventured 
to oppose their views, or to offer advice to the King, he com- 
plained to Bischofswerder, and was answered, " Good God ! is 
not your Majesty King ? " 

* "VertrauteBriefe." 


But even this was not the lowest debasement of the Govern- 
ment at this unhappy period. A crowd of needy sycophants 
obtained place in the lower offices, and a considerable degree 
of power besides at Court ; the most important papers lay open 
to the discretion of the valets, says Mirabeau, and though they 
dreaded the King's violence, they were the first to laugh at his 
incapacity. These people, with Eietz at their head, made a 
market of place and title ; the first year of Frederic William's 
reign was marked by the creation of twenty-three " new-baked" 
counts, as the old nobility called them, many of them ennobled 
"not by the King, but by the Kammerdiener ! " * 

Meanwhile an era was fast approaching which imperatively 
called for the closest attention from the sovereign of every State 
in Europe, and summoned even Frederic William from the 
attractions of his harem to the hardships of a soldier's life; and 
here, though his campaigns were unsuccessful, that Prince shows 
to the best advantage, for he was a brave soldier at least. 

The commencement of the revolution in France caused a 
speedy conclusion of the alliance, which had been so long in 
contemplation, between Prussia and Austria, and the Emperor 
and King Frederic William prepared for an attack upon 
revolutionary France, in defence of her unfortunate monarch, 
Louis XVI. 

When Frederic the Great died, the Prussian army was famed 
as the finest and best-disciplined body of troops in Europe. Its 
rapid success under the Duke of Brunswick in Holland, when 
in 1787 Frederic William espoused the cause of his brother-in- 
law, the hereditary Stattholder, had no way shaken its reputa- 
tion, whilst the general had gained a somewhat undue degree of 
fame for his almost unopposed conquest. Therefore it was with 
the most confident expectation and the most boastful expressions 
that the Prussian army again prepared to take the field under 
the same leader. France was to be conquered as easily as 
Holland had been. "Do not purchase too many horses," said 
* "VertrauteBriefe." 


Bischofswerder to Massenbach, " the comedy will not last long, 
we shall be at home again in the autumn." 

The King himself, accompanied by the two elder Princes and 
Prince Louis Ferdinand (the son of Prince Ferdinand) left 
Berlin on the 10th of June, 1792, in order to go to Frankfort, 
the point of junction with his imperial ally, the new Emperor 
Francis II., whose coronation took place on the 17th. The con- 
sequences of the Duke of Brunswick's unfortunate manifesto, 
and of his hesitation, whether he would fight for his master, or 
befriend the republicans, if they bribed high enough ; the suf- 
ferings of the Prussian army; the inglorious retreat, at the 
moment when Dumourier, by anticipation, saw himself beaten, 
and the enemy in possession of the capital, all the events of 
that campaign, whose only result was to teach the raw repub- 
lican levies that they could fight as well as flee, are too well 
known for it to be necessary to detail them. The journals kept 
by the crown Prince and by Goethe, who accompanied the Prus- 
sian army, furnish many interesting details of this expedition ; 
the latter gives various anecdotes of the emigrant French 
Princes, to whom Frederic William had afforded a refuge in his 
dominions, and who now re-entered their country in the midst of 
a foreign invading army. The effeminate habits of these luxu. 
riou sly-nurtured Frenchmen were matter partly of amusement, 
partly of disgust to the Prussian soldiers, who were suffering so 
many hardships on their behalf. Goethe* relates, that the fact 
of the King of Prussia wearing no overcoat, notwithstanding 

* Goethe's " Campagne in Frankreich." " llth September, on our return 
to our first quarters, we found a distinguished emigrant, formerly known to us. 
He complained bitterly of the cruelty which the King of Prussia inflicted on 
the French Princes. Startled and almost confounded at this, we demanded 
some further explanation. Then we learnt, that on leaving Grlorieux, in spite 
of the drenching rain, the King put on no great coat, wrapped no cloak about 
him, and consequently the Royal Princes had also been obliged to deny themselves 
these weather-proof garments. Our marquis, however, could not bear to behold 
these illustrious persons, lightly clad, wet through and through, and dripping 
with rain ; indeed, if it would have availed, he would have laid down his life 
to see them riding in a dry carriage." 


the torrents of rain which accompanied the march, because he 
wished to encourage the men, by letting them see that their 
King would not indulge in comforts not provided for them, was 
resented as a personal injury by them. This, and other anec- 
dotes of a similar kind, show that they were not men whose 
valour in behalf of their country, was likely to excite enthusiastic 

Frederic William felt that campaign as a sad disgrace. His 
object in commencing the war had been a sincere desire to assist 
the unfortunate King of France. He had written to the Queen 
Dowager two days before he left Berlin, " That which alone has 
induced me to commence this war, is the idea that it must tend 
to the good of mankind, and check the frightful outbreak of 
anarchy which has originated in France, and would at length 
desolate all Europe." * Instead of achieving the end which he 
desired, the measures pursued had but precipitated the cata- 
strophe which he sought to avert. Probably had he trusted to 
his own generalship, instead of that of his cousin, and passed 
on to Paris, as he and the army wished, the result might have 
been nearer the accomplishment of the views with which he left 

Frederic William returned therefore to Berlin, after rather 
more than a year's absence ; and the marriage of his two sons, 
who had been betrothed while at Frankfort, to the two sister 
Princesses of Mecklenburg- Strelitz, followed very shortly after- 

The King was once more called into the field before the 
end of his reign, at the time of the insurrection in 
Poland, in 1794. That country having attempted to secure 
some little stability by forming a constitution for itself, the 
great Powers on either side, roused by these feeble movements 
to the perception that life was not as yet quite extinct in their 
victim, resolved to settle the matter by a final partition ; this 
plan was accordingly put into execution in 1792. The Poles, 
* " Louisa Konigin von Preussen zum Deutschen Volke." 


gathering energy from despair, rushed to arms, and headed by 
Poland's last hero, Kosciusko, asserted their right to hold their 
own towns, and to be masters of their own country. Frederic 
William prepared to assist in subduing them, and marched to 
Jbin the Russian army and lay siege to Warsaw. But the Polish 
scythe-armed peasants were fired by a spirit which made them 
more than a match even for the perfect discipline of the Prus- 
sian army, and after a most inglorious campaign, Frederic 
William broke up the siege and returned to Berlin, leaving 
Suwarrow to quell Poland alone, and to wring at Maciejowice, 
that last bitter moan, " Finis Polonise " from the great heart of 

The behaviour of the Prussian troops in this expedition began 
to show how well grounded were the apprehensions of Frederic 
II., when in 1778 he " made peace, because he feared to be de- 
feated and survive his glory;"* it was evident that the far- 
famed discipline of the infantry and the wonderful manoeuvring 
of the cavalry, which were trained to perform their evolutions in 
almost as small a space as infantry, were in no way an indem- 
nification for the deterioration, moral and physical, which the 
army had undergone. Frederic II. had been guilty of a great 
mistake in officering his regiments solely from the nobility, 
because he considered the burger class wanting in cultivation 
and honourable feeling ; and so it might have been, at the com- 
mencement of his reign, but the liberty which he allowed to 
the press, and the consequent diffusion of knowledge, had now, 
in great measure, corrected this deficiency, and the burger 
class would have afforded a large amount of efficiency and 
talent. Besides, the officers whom he had formed under his own 
eye were very different men from the young nobility who suc- 
ceeded to their places, who, considering themselves born, as it 
were, to promotion in the army, consequently took no pains to 
fit themselves for their posts, but squandered their property, 
and made themselves premature old men by their profligate 
* "VertrauteBriefe." 


manner of life. Thus, while one officer employed in the Polish 
campaign, "amused himself at the theatre,* another concealed 
himself in an empty cask at his inn, on the approach of the 
enemy, f and the rest marched where the enemy was not," J it was 
not to be wondered at that the soldiers, with such leaders, should 
have fled before the valiant sons of Poland, all bearing in their 
hearts the thirst for vengeance on the persecutors of their country. 
At Berlin, within the last few years, several disturbances had 
taken place in Frederic William's polygamic family arrange- 
ments. The Countess Ingenheim was remorseful and un- 
happy in her more than doubtful position ; her health 
gradually failed, and she died of consumption in 1789. 
But a new and very beautiful claimant was ambitious of suc- 
ceeding to her place ; this was a lady of noble birth and very 
imperious disposition, the Grafin Sophia von Donhoff. She 
insisted on the same conditions as her predecessor had done, 
namely, the Queen's consent to a left-handed marriage ; and a 
dowry. Queen Louisa was again insulted by the same extra- 
ordinary demand as had been made upon her in the former in- 
stance, and again yielded a consent, which would have been a 
refusal, had she dared. But the new wife soon made it apparent 
that she expected to rule as actual Queen. Her behaviour was 
most insolent and audacious ; often did the eyes of the unhappy 
Louisa fill with tears, as she thought of the gentleness of the 
Countess Ingenheim, in comparison with the insults she was 
condemned to submit to from this haughty upstart. And not 
only did the Grafin consider herself called upon to govern the 
Court, and oblige all but the Queen to yield precedence to her, 
but she undertook to govern the State as well. She wrote to 
the King, to threaten him that she would " give him up alto- 
gether, if he entered with such levity upon so important and 
difficult an undertaking" as that of the invasion of France. 
"Either you must march at the head of 200,000 Prussians and 
250,000 Austrians, or give up every hope of victory," wrote 
* Schwerin at Posen. f Manstein at Kosten. See " Yertraute Briefe." 


she. But .Frederic William did not approve of being dictated 
to, and the endless caprices of the fair Countess at length 
wearied him out ; he began to neglect her, and she began to 
resent it violently. Her last interview with him was of a very 
stormy nature. 

The King had one refined taste, namely, for music ; he was 
passionately fond of it ; he had in his youth played extremely 
well upon the violoncello. One night, at a concert in the new 
garden at Potsdam, the Grafin rushed suddenly, with dishevelled 
hair through the assembly, and laid her infant at his feet, ex- 
claiming, " There, take back your property ! " This scene, how- 
ever, only hastened her downfall. After this period Madame de 
Hietz, now the Grafin Lichtenau, still preserved her old sway 
over the King, and more than her old sway at Court ; and, alas ! 
the Queen was still, either totally neglected, or subjected to in- 
dignities which would have rendered total neglect preferable. 
She was obliged to receive the favourite at Court, after her eleva- 
tion to a title ; she even also presented her with her portrait set 
in brilliants ; this was done by the advice of her Oberhofmeister 
Wittgenstein, and her gentlewoman of the chamber, who had 
obtained great influence over her mind, and who thus sought 
to gain favour with the King. 

A heavy trial, too, which she had but little anticipated, came 
upon her at the close of the year 1796; this was the death of 
her second son, Prince Louis. Her affliction during his illness 
was terrible to witness, and upon his death she was almost 
beside herself for a time. Her only consolation lay now in her 
eldest son. The crown Prince had long witnessed his mother's 
position with infinite pain ; he had seen her day by day sub- 
jected, in her own Court, to humiliations the greatest that can 
be put upon a woman, and seen it without the power of redress- 
ing her wrongs, or aiding her in any way except by his silent 
respect and affection. But when in 1793 he brought home his 
own pure, young bride, and saw her from time to time exposed 
to the defilement of intercourse with such a woman, the indig- 


nation which he had so long smothered, with difficulty, from a 
sense of filial respect towards his father, could scarcely be longer 
kept within bounds. 

When the King's health failed in 1796, he gave himself 
wholly up to the care of Grafin Lichtenau, who tended him with 
an affection and fidelity that form a redeeming point in her 
character. After his partial recovery, in the spring of 1797, she 
had an opera performed in the new theatre she had caused to be 
built, in her house, under the Lindens ; the piece selected was 
' ' La Morte di Cleopatra," composed by Nasolini. To this per- 
formance she, with the King's sanction, invited not only the rest 
of the royal family, but the Queen herself. The invitation was, 
in point of fact, a command ; and to this indignity also Louisa 
was obliged to stoop. Dampmartin relates " that the Queen, 
the crown Prince and his consort, as well as the other royal 
Princes and Princesses, trembled with indignation at the humi- 
liating constraint which made them the guests of a woman, whose 
very neighbourhood they felt to be an insult. The King bore upon 
his pallid countenance the tokens of mortal disease. The kind- 
hearted Queen writhed her lips into a sickly smile. The crown 
Prince could not conceal his violent agitation; he cast stolen 
glances alternately at his tenderly-loved mother, and his adored 
wife, as if he could not take in the possibility of beholding them 
in the apartments of the mistress of his father." The Grafin 
Lichtenau meanwhile, far more richly dressed than the Queen, 
enjoyed the triumph of receiving the King's attentions before 
her. "At some strophes of the opera," proceeds the descrip- 
tion, " in which Octavia laments the infidelity of Mark Antony, 
all eyes involuntarily turned upon the Queen, and she concealed 
her face in her handkerchief." 

There is nothing in such scenes as these which would lead 
us to wish to prolong the review of them ; I therefore pass over 
the festival given by the people of Berlin on the recovery of 
Frederic William, " the much beloved," as they called him, 
without further notice than to say, that the Queen pleaded in- 



disposition to prevent the repetition of suffering similar to that 
which she had submitted to on the occasion just described ; 
whilst the Grafin Lichtenau appeared in classic Greek costume, 
as Polyhymnia, and had the effrontery to sing, at the public 
banquet, some verses of her own composition, in honour of the 
King and of the feast. 

This was the last public occasion on which the King was 
present; his constitution was enfeebled by his excesses, and 
his health soon again gave way ; symptoms of the hereditary 
malady of his family, dropsy, again presented themselves. The 
autumn of that last year of his life was a season of dreary suf- 
fering to him ; his later days, too, were tormented by all kinds 
of abominable empiricism, which deluded him with the vain 
hopes of recovery by the use of sundry " infallible" remedies. 
" From all lands streamed learned physicians, empirics, adepts, 
magnetisers, and wonder-doctors," to Potsdam.* One char- 
latan proposed that the King should recline upon cushions 
made of the skins and various other parts of unborn calves. 
When this disgusting nostrum proved useless, another quack- 
doctor undertook to produce a certain "pure air of life," 
which would unquestionably restore him ; this pure ether was 
to be obtained by anything but pure means, since putrid animal 
substances were necessary to produce it ; he had his laboratory 
in one of the palace kitchens, and so fearful were the odours 
produced, that it was necessary to dismiss him.f A French 
maguetiser then propounded a new theory, viz. that the 
" principle of life " being exhausted in the King's constitution, 
it should be restored by means of taking " electric baths ;" 
listening to soft music ; witnessing the sports of young children, 
kittens, or puppies ; having two children, of from eight to ten 
years of age, to sleep with him, &c. &c.J But even this 
remedy, though more agreeable than the others, and like them 
duly tested, failed. The cold grasp of death was upon 
Frederic William, and it was useless to struggle against it. In 

! '.". r ' 

* Vehse. f Forster. J Ibid. 


this illness, as in his last, he was constantly attended by the 
Grafin Lichtenau, who took up her abode close at hand (the 
King was residing in the new marble-palace at Potsdam), whilst 
the Queen remained in Berlin, and only came, at most, once in 
the week to visit her husband. I quote the description of an 
eyewitness of one of the last scenes of the King's life " The 
saloon was illuminated by the soft but melancholy light of wax- 
candles, placed in alabaster vases. In the background sat the 
King, his swollen feet supported by cushions, in a deep arm- 
chair of green velvet, pale, emaciated, with labouring breath, 
his dying eyes wandering hither and thither with an unsteady 
gaze. Near him on the right sat the Grafin Lichtenau, 
stroking his swollen hand. To the left the Marquise de 
Nadaillac, whose sprightly amiability refreshes him. The 
Abbe d'Andelard, Prince Meurice of Broglie, Saint Paterne 
and Saint Ygnon, were also present ; the latter was the reader, 
a jovial buffoon, who would have been better calculated to 
amuse the dulness of the country folks than to make the sick 
King forget his sufferings ; near the fire played the children of 
the Countess Donhoff, the Graf and Grafin of Brandenburg, 
whose education the King had entrusted to the Grafin Lich- 
tenau. Between whiles the sick man sunk into an uneasy 
slumber, out of which bad dreams again startled him. The 
reader did not allow himself to be interrupted by this, and it 
made a startling impression to hear Moliere's ' Malade Ima- 
ginaire' read beside the suffering and dying King." 

It was, indeed, a strange scene, and a strange lecture for the 
last hours of a dying man. The King's state now grew worse 
from day to day, but still the same little assemblies of French 
refugees, by whom he had now been for some time almost 
entirely surrounded, met at his dinner-table every day, although 
he could not join them, but sat apart in his easy chair. At 
one of these occasions, on the 12th November, the loud report 
of a champagne bottle, amidst the stillness of the company 
for the King was too ill to bear to hear them talk so startled 

Y 2 


him that he fainted, and was carried to bed. On the 15th, the 
Queen and the crown Prince were apprised that he wished to 
take leave of them. Even this last parting took place in the pre- 
sence of the Grafin Lichtenau ; and Frederic William's feeble 
request for forgiveness from her whom he had wronged so 
much, was transmitted by the lips of the rival who had weaned 
his affections from her all along, and who now, as she supported 
him in her arms, alone was near enough to catch the purport of 
those tremulous accents. The interview was short and painful ; 
the King's weakness overcoming him, he signed to the Grafin 
to conduct his wife and son to the ante-chamber. The Queen 
was greatly overcome ; the great suffering and weakness of her 
husband roused all the tenderness and forgiveness of her 
nature, and she flung her arms round her rival's neck and wept, 
sobbing out broken words of gratitude for her kindness to the 
dying man. But the crown Prince looked on almost with in- 
dignation, whilst his mother thus gave way to her feelings; he 
could not forget even in that woman's devotion to the one 
parent, the injuries she had inflicted on the other. When the 
Grafin went back to the King, he asked her, " What did my son 
say to you ? " " Not a word," replied she. " Not a word of 
thanks ? " said the King, angrily ; " then I will see no one 
else." When the Grafin by his order informed other members 
of the royal family that the King declined to see them, it 
excited against her much, in this case, unmerited indignation, 
as they imagined her to be excluding them from the King by 
her own authority. 

All the rest of that day and night were passed in a fearful 
conflict between Frederic William's natural strength of consti- 
tution and the fell power of death. Awful were the convulsive 
struggles of the death agony; the leather of the chair in which 
he sat was torn to pieces by the spasmodic clutchings of the 
sufferer. " What have I done to deserve so hard a death ? " 
groaned he ; "I have always meant well by my people." At 
length came the moment of release. At nine o'clock on the 


morning of November 16, 1797, Frederic William II. was 
called to the bar of his Maker to answer for his own deeds. 

But he went through the bitterness of death alone, with no 
tender hand to support his head, no priest to speak a word of 
comfort ; only unfeeling hirelings * around him. To one of his 
valets he turned in his agony and desolation, and taking his 
hand entreated him not to leave him in that last hour. The 
companion of so many years was not with him at his death, 
she had left him early in the morning to take a short period of 
repose. She was roused from her slumber at once by the in- 
telligence of the King's death and of her own arrest. That 
had been the crown Prince's first thought on being informed 
of the death of his father. Times had now changed with the 
hitherto all-powerful Grafin Lichtenau. All her possessions 
were confiscated and herself imprisoned, whilst the very men 
whom she had helped to elevate to power, turned their backs 
upon her in her adversity. She was put under slight imprison- 
ment at Glogau, but allowed a pension, it having been found 
that most of the charges brought against her could not be sub- 
stantiated. Whilst there she commenced a process-at-law 
against the King for the recovery of her possessions. Liberty 
was offered her, on condition that she should desist from the 
suit. She was accordingly liberated in 1800. She mar- 
ried a young actor named Fontano, or rather Holbein, who 
afterwards became celebrated as a theatrical writer. He forsook 
her before long. She then went to reside at Paris. The Em- 
peror Napoleon, when Prussia submitted to him, procured her 
an indemnification for her losses. She died in 1820, aged sixty- 
eight. Much might be said in favour of the natural disposition 
of this woman, who played so extraordinary a part in Prussia. 
She was generous and kind-hearted, and most sincerely attached 
to the King ; neither did she make use of her influence over 

* Beaumanoir says that one of his attendants had the brutality to exclaim as 

the struggle still continued, " Cela ne finira-t-il pas, il ne veut pas crever ?" 

See Vehse. 


him to provide riches for herself after his death. The accu- 
sation which Frederic "William III. brought against her for 
removing papers and jewels from the palace during the King's 
illness was proved to be unfounded; and since Frederic Wil- 
liam would infallibly have been always governed by female 
management of some kind, he and the kingdom were in less 
danger in her hands than they would have been in those of 
almost any other person in her position. She possessed a very 
uncommon power of attraction even to an advanced age. Her 
journey to Italy in 1793 (which drew upon the treasury largely) 
was a series of triumphs. She was received at nearly all the 
foreign Courts she visited in the course of it. Several British sub- 
jects of high rank * paid their addresses to her, but she remained 
always faithful to her first love ; even the allurements of wealth 
could not shake her fidelity. When Schmidt the "fat 
Cupid " of Berlin offered her his hand and his fortune, she only 
feigned to listen to his vows in order to induce him to go down 
on his knees, a posture from which he found it impossible to 
rise, on the King's preconcerted entrance, until his Majesty 
called for a servant to help him ! 

The influence which such a reign as that of Frederic William 
must necessarily have exercised upon the already corrupt state 
of society in Berlin, may be easily imagined. The most revolt- 
ing pictures are given of the vice which then prevailed. Town 
and country were said to be alike depraved ; all ranks and classes 
rivalled each other in iniquity. The facility of divorce had 
caused the utmost laxity with regard to the marriage tie. 
Matrimony had become, in point of fact, a merely nominal 
affair. A married couple, who were attached to each other, were 
looked upon as an anomaly, and held up to ridicule. The 
female sex had sunk to the lowest state of degradation. In 
short, Prussia, before she could be cleansed from her filthiness, 

* Amongst these were Lord Templetown, an Irishman, but the King would not 
give his consent to the marriage, and the fiery lover soon quarrelled with his lady. 
Lord Bristol, Bishop of Londonderry, was also her devoted admirer : she had 
various offers from other distinguished foreigners. 


required to be passed " seven times" through the fire; and this 
refining process was now shortly to be accomplished. 

But though Frederic William did not forward the cause of 
morality, nor promote the growth of literature and science in 
his dominions, he lent his aid at least in one respect to assert 
the rights of humanity, by mitigating the severity of military 
discipline in the army. During the reigns of his grandfather 
and uncle, the life of the common soldier had been one of 
great hardship. The slightest dereliction from duty, the 
smallest inadvertence upon parade, were punished with the 
most barbarous severity. Their pay was so small * that when 
provisions were dear, they were completely upon famine rations. 
We read of one poor fellow who died from having eaten raven- 
ously of raw potatoes, upon a field of which he chanced to come 
in his hunger. Many of the officers were brutally severe in the 
use of their canes when the men drilled badly. One, named 
Eamin, noted for his harshness, put out one of a soldier's 
eyes in this way. The next time he saw him, he said, " I broke 
a pane of glass for you the other day, there is the price of it," 
giving him a twenty-groschen piece. It may be imagined with 
what dread the recruiting officers were received when they 
entered a village, the young men, with few exceptions, being 
all liable to be enlisted for the service. Many maimed them- 
selves, by cutting off one or more fingers of one hand, in order 
thus to escape the requisition. Those who were already in the 
army were, in many cases, so wretched from ill treatment and 
insufficient food, that finding it almost impossible to desert, and 
being told that they would go to hell if they committed suicide, 
it was no uncommon expedient for them to murder an infant, 
with the view of being condemned to be shot. So frequent 
had this crime become, that Frederic II. found it necessary, 
in order to put a stop to it, to deny such persons as committed 
it the solace of a priest in their last moments. The condition 

* The pay of the common soldier was eight Gros every fifth day, or \\d. per 
day. < ' Licht-Strahlen. " 


of the soldiers was much ameliorated in Frederic William II.'s 
reign. The horrible punishment of " Gassen-laufen," or run- 
ning the gauntlet, was now also put a stop to in the army. 

After her husband's death the Queen Dowager's trials may 
be said to have been at an end. We find almost no mention of 
her actions during the few remaining years of her life. Her 
son's respectful affection for her was now able to gratify itself 
by placing her in that high position of honour and respect 
from which it had cost him so much pain to behold her debarred. 
She had also the happiness of witnessing his perfect domestic 
felicity, and of seeing her grandchildren growing up fair and 
engaging around her. The little cloud, no bigger than a man's 
hand, the herald of approaching tempest, was only just rising 
above the horizon, and many fair days of social regeneration 
and national progress, beneath the mild administration of her 
son, seemed still in prospect for the country, when Queen 
Frederica Louisa breathed her last, in that first year of 
Prussia's troubles, 1805. 

Besides King Frederic William III. and Prince Louis, her 
other two sons were Prince Henry and Prince William; the 
former lived and died in Rome, where he had married below the 
rank of a royal prince. Prince William married the Princess 
Marianne of Hesse-Homberg ; he offered to become a hostage 
for the payment of the contributions levied upon Prussia by 
Napoleon, but the Emperor replied "that it was very noble, but 
impossible." His son Prince Adalbert, married, with the left 
hand, Theresa, the sister of Fanny Elsler ; and Prince Walde- 
mar was the lover of a daughter of Goethe's Bettina von Arnim. 
Wilhemina, one of the Queen's daughters, married William, 
Stattholder of the Netherlands, and Augusta was united to the 
Elector of Hesse, William II.* 

* Vehse. 




IT is a relief to turn from the scenes of profligacy and folly 
which disgraced the reign of the last King of Prussia, to the 
contemplation of a character so pure and elevated as that of the 
Princess whose name heads this chapter. Let Jean Paul tell the 
story of the birth of this noblest and fairest lady of his German 
Father-land, from that chronicle of her life which he had shrined 
amidst his holiest recollections, in the mystical depths of his 
poet's heart. " Before she was born, her genius stood before 
Destiny, and said, ( I have many wreaths for the child, the 
flower wreath of beauty, the myrtle wreath of marriage, the 
crown of a kingdom, the laurel and oak wreath of German 
Father-land's love also a crown of thorns ; which of all may I 
give the child?' 'Give her all thy wreaths and crowns/ said 
Destiny. ' But there is yet one crown in reserve, which is worth 
all the others.' On the day when the death-crown was placed 
on that noble head, appeared the genius again, but only his 
tears questioned Destiny. Then answered a voice, { Look up !' 
and the God of Christians appeared." * 

The Princess Louisa, f of Mecklenburg-Strelitz, thus called 

* Schmerzlich-trb'stende Erinnerungen des 19en Juli, 1810," contained in Jean 
Paul's " Herbst Blumine," chap. 10, and especially addressed by the author 
in his dedication to the Prince George Charles Frederic, hereditary Duke of 
Mecklenburg-Strelitz, the brother of Queen Louisa. 

*f Louisa Augusta Wilhelmina Amelia were her baptismal names. 


by Destiny to so mingled an inheritance of joy and sorrow, was 
descended from one of the most ancient princely houses of 
Germany; she numbered amongst her ancestors Henry the 
Lion, Duke of Saxony, by whom the country was conquered 
from its barbarous inhabitants, and who gave the hand of his 
daughter, and part of the conquered territory, to the heir of 
the former sovereign; who thus became the founder of the 
Mecklenburg family. The father of Louisa was Charles Louis 
Frederic, then hereditary prince, afterwards Duke of Mecklen- 
burg-Strelitz, the brother of Queen Charlotte of England. He 
was Governor General of Hanover, and held the baton of Field 
Marshal in that service at the time of the birth of this daughter. 
Her mother, a Princess of Hesse Darmstadt, and cousin of the 
crown Princess of Prussia (Louisa, wife of Frederic William II., 
the memoir of whose life we have just concluded), died after 
giving birth to her tenth child, May 22, 1782. The widower 
withdrew, in the first depth of his sorrow, to the comparative 
seclusion of Herrenhausen, committing the Princess Louisa, 
then six years of age, to the charge of Fraulein Wollzogen. 
Anxious to replace, as far as possible, the tenderness of a mother's 
affection to his children, he married the sister of his former 
consort, in 1784; but the renewal of his domestic happiness 
was destined to be of very short duration, for this lady unhappily 
followed her sister to the grave, in 1785, after giving birth to a 
son. The Duke was well-nigh heart-broken at this second be- 
reavement ; he retired from the Hanoverian service, and betook 
himself to Darmstadt, where he placed his twice-orphaned chil- 
dren under the charge of their grandmother, the Dowager 
Landgravine, a lady of most exemplary character, and one who 
was, moreover, gifted with that nice perception of the shades of 
disposition in children, which is so desirable a qualification in 
those who have the charge of their education, since it affords the 
best chance for the adoption of such a system of management 
as may beneficially develope the germs of character. She soon 
observed that the course which had hitherto been pursued with 

LOUISA. 331 

the young Louisa a child of an imaginative and warmly- 
affectionate temperament was rather calculated, by checking 
all manifestation of natural feeling, to render the timid child 
shy and reserved, than to ripen such a disposition to the rich 
maturity of which it gave promise. She therefore replaced the 
present instructress, Fraulein Agier, by a Swiss lady, named 
Gelieur, a person admirably qualified, by her amiability, up- 
rightness, and piety, rightly to influence the susceptible mind 
thus committed to her charge. How scrupulously and well she 
discharged her duties, is shown, at once, by the effect of her 
training on her pupil's mind, and by the loving respect with 
which the Princess ever regarded her in after life. The King also, 
always said that he owed her a great debt of gratitude for her 
care of his Louisa in her youth ; and long after her death, when 
a gleam of brighter promise once more shone on Prussia's fallen 
fortunes, he turned aside from his route in passing through 
Neufchatel (now again become Prussian ground) to visit Fraulein 
Gelieur in her brother's quiet parsonage, and selecting a shawl 
often worn by the Queen, from the relics of his beloved which 
had accompanied him to the battle-field, he presented it to her, 
because he knew his wife would have wished the friend whom 
she so much venerated, to possess some last remembrance of 

Amongst the earliest notices of the life of the Princess Louisa 
is one of a journey in which she accompanied her grandmother 
on a visit to her aunt, the Pfalzgrafin of Zweibriicken, at 
Strasburg; whilst there she visited the Cathedral, and very 
much wished to ascend the whole 725 steps, to the ball, for the 
sake of the view. From Strasburg their journey lay through 
the beautiful district of the Rhine to the Netherlands. The 
history of this country excited much interest in the mind of 
Princess Louisa, who had read with deep sympathy the account 
of its brave struggles for freedom in Schiller's " Revolt of the 
Netherlands/' In 1792 the two Princesses, Louisa and Frede- 
rica, accompanied their grandmother to Frankfort, to be present 


at the coronation of the Emperor Francis II. During their 
sojourn at this town they paid that visit to Goethe's mother 
described by " Bettina" in Goethe's " Correspondence with a 
Child/' when the two Princesses amused themselves by pump- 
ing water in the " Frau Rath V Hof, and could not be prevailed 
upon to desist from this undignified amusement until their 
Hofmeisterin obliged them to come in, and, lest they should be 
tempted to resume it, fastened them into the room, to the great 
regret of the Frau Rath, who thought it very hard that the poor 
young things should be deprived of so innocent a pleasure, 
which they could enjoy only at her house, and who strove to 
console them by setting before them a plentiful supply of her 
famous " Eier-kuchen" and " Speck salat," of which they left 
not so much as a te crumb or a leaf/' such justice did they do 
to her skill. Shortly after this time, the Rhine-country threat- 
ening to become the seat of war, the two Princesses were sent 
on a visit to their married sister, Charlotte, the Duchess of 
Hildeburghausen. The picturesque scenery of the romantic 
river Werra, which runs through this district, had a peculiar 
charm for the Princess Louisa's highly imaginative tempera- 
ment, and her sejour in the neighbourhood seems to have been 
a season of much enjoyment to her. She and her sister re- 
mained there until 1793, when they returned to Darmstadt via 
Frankfort. During the time which had intervened between 
this and their former visit, Frankfort had twice changed hands, 
having been taken by the French, and recaptured by the brave 
General Riichel. It was now the head-quarters of the Prussian 
army, and the Landgrave of Hesse, who was in alliance with 
Frederic William II., had invited his relative, the Dowager 
Landgravine, to return by that route, in order to have an oppor- 
tunity of presenting her two grand- daughters to the King of 
Prussia. Thus strangely does this eventful visit to Frankfort, 
which was to influence so deeply the future fate of both sisters, 
appear to have been the effect of chance. Who would have 
predicted that the two slenderly-apanaged Princesses of Meek- 

LOUISA. 333 

lenburg-Strelitz who accidentally passed through Frankfort, 
intending to remain there but a few hours, would have left that 
place as the affianced brides of the two elder Princes of Prussia ! 
Yet such was the fact. The Landgravine of Hesse had intended 
to resume her journey after visiting the theatre on the evening of 
her arrival, but she was induced to defer her intended departure 
by an invitation to sup with the King. 

The Princess Louisa was now seventeen years of age, and in 
the first bloom of that exquisite beauty which afterwards 
became celebrated throughout Europe. She was tall and 
slender in person, and there was a peculiar grace about her 
movements, a nameless charm which hovered round her, and 
could not be traced to mere beauty of feature or form, but 
which seemed an emanation from the bright spirit within, in 
short, it was "the mind, the music breathing from her face,"* 
which possessed a perfect power of fascination over all who saw 
her. Both old and young, rough and severe, as well as 
refined and gentle, were equally attracted. "Even such men 
as were not easily carried away by enthusiasm, spoke with 
enchantment of Louisa," says Vehse. " The rough and caustic 
Hitter von Lang became tenderly sentimental in the passage of 
his memoirs, where he speaks of her. ' She floated before me,' 
says he, ' like a wholly unearthly being of angelic form and 
honey- sweet eloquence, by means of which she concentrated all 
the beams of her graciousness, so that every one seemed to fall 
into a magic dream/ ' She was a complete enchantress if ever 
I saw one. ; "t This was the fairy creature upon whom the eyes 
of the crown Prince rested, on his first introduction to the 
Princess Louisa, of Mecklenburg-Strelitz. Years afterwards, 
when he had lost her, he said to Eylert, in one of those rare 
moments in which he trusted himself to speak of her, " I felt 

* Frau von Berg, in describing her mistress, says, "an inexpressible grace 
clothed her every motion ; but this grace was not merely outward, it arose from 
the inner depths of her mind, and therefore was it so full of soul (Seelenvoll)." 

f Von Lang saw her after she was Queen, in 1803, at Anspach. 


when I first saw her, f Tis she, or none on earth/ I remember 
having met with a passage somewhere in Schiller which con- 
tains those words, and describes the emotions that awoke in my 
heart at that moment." Eylert afterwards looked out the pas- 
sage ; it is from the "Brant von Messina," and runs thus : 

"Whence she came, and how before me thus 
She stood that ask not as I turned 
My eyes, they fell on her who stood beside, 
And strange, mysteriously mighty, wonderful 
Her presence seized upon my inner life. 
'Twas not the magic of that wondrous smile, 
'Twas not the charm which hovered o'er her cheek, 
Nor yet the radiance of her nymph -like form, 
It was the sweet, deep secret of her being 
Which held and fetter'd me with holy might. 
Like magic powers that mix mysteriously, 
Our twin souls seemed, without one spoken word, 
To leap together, spirit-stirred, and blend j 
As my breath mixed with hers 
Stranger to me, yet inwardly akin, 
Belov'd at once, I felt graved on my heart 
'Tis she or none on earth. 
It is the holy beam of divine love 
Which strikes upon, and kindles in the soul, 
When kindred spirit meeteth with its kin. 
There is no opposition and no choice, 
And man may loose not that which Heaven binds. " * 

Prince Louis, the brother of the crown Prince, was similarly 
struck with the younger Princess Frederica ; and before many 
days were over, the brothers had each sought the approbation 
of their father, and the favour of the fair ladies of their re- 
spective choice. It is a rare circumstance in the annals of a 
princely family, that three of the daughters should make pure 
love-matches, yet so it was with three out of the four sisters of 
the family Mecklenburg-Strelitz, for the Princess Theresa, of 
Thurn and Taxis, had been similarly wooed and won by a man, 

* Eylert, in his " Charakterziige aus dem Leben Friedrich Wilhelms III.," gives, 
on this text, a long disquisition upon the subject of love at first sight; but what 
in German is only sentiment, sometimes, when translated into English, sounds 
very like sentimentality. The passage may be found in Mrs. Richardson's " His- 
tory of Queen Louisa." 

LOUISA. 335 

who, for the love of her, rejected the chance of half a million, 
with the hand of the Princess of Doria.* 

Jean Paul dedicated his " Titan" to these " four fair and 
noble sisters on the throne,"f and in his " Herbst-Blumine," he 
thus speaks of them in his own richly-quaint, poetic fashion : J 
" Aphrodite, Aglaia, Euphrosyne, and Thalia, looked down into 
the earthly clear-obscure here below, and weary of the ever 
bright but cold Olympus, they wished themselves below the 
clouds enveloping our earth, where the soul ever loves more 
because it suffers more, and where it is sadder but warmer. 
They heard the holy tones mount up, with which Polyhymnia, 
invisible, wanders through the deep earth-valleys in order 
to refresh and quicken us, and they sorrowed that their thrones 
.stood so far distant from the sighs of the helpless. Then they 
resolved to take the earthly veil and clothe themselves in our 
form. But when they stirred the first blossoms of earth, and 
cast only beams but no shadows, then Eate, the mournful 
Queen of Gods and Men, raised her eternal sceptre and said 
' Immortals become mortal upon earth, and every spirit becomes 
a human being/ Then they became human, and were called 
Louisa, Charlotte, Theresa, and Frederica." 

The King of Prussia was by no means bent upon aggran- 
disement, by means of matrimonial alliances with foreign 
Powers, for his sons ; he therefore cordially gave his consent 
to their wishes, and himself exchanged the rings on the betro- 

* See " Luise Kb'nigin von Preussen zum Deutschen Volke." The attachment 
of the Princess Theresa and her husband remained as ardent and unchanged in 
their old age as in their youth ; on the day when the Prince was attacked while 
hunting with the seizure which caused his death, his wife, ignorant of the cause 
of the delay, was watching, as usual, for his return from the windows of the castle, 
and waving her handkerchief to let him know she was at her post. 

f" Louisa Queen of Prussia, Frederica Queen of Holland, Theresa Princess of 
Thurn and Taxis, and Charlotte Duchess of Hildeburghausen. 

J This passage is quoted by the author of " Luise Konigin von Preussen zum 
Deutschen Volke. " This work is one of the most pleasing of the many memo- 
rials of this favourite Queen of the Prussians : it is written with much taste, and 
contains also great part of the work of Frau von Berg, the confidential friend of 
Louisa, during the period of trial which preceded her death. 


thai of the two young couples at Darmstadt, in April, 1793. 
In the ensuing May, the two Princesses visited the Prussian 
camp before Mainz. Goethe who, as stated above, accom- 
panied the army on this campaign saw them on this occasion. 
He writes, Thursday, May 29, from the camp before Mainz : 
<{ A pleasant spectacle was prepared for us all, especially for 
me. The Princesses of Mecklenburg had dined with the King 
at Bodenheim,* and after dinner they visited the camp. I 
concealed myself in my tent, so that I could see their High- 
nesses, who passed up and down immediately in front of it, 
and observe them narrowly ; and truly, amidst the tumult of 
war, one might have taken these two young ladies for heavenly 
visions, whose impression upon me will never be effaced." f 
That knight of olden chivalry, La Motte Fouque, also, thought 
it truly " in the spirit of the old hero times, that the eyes of 
beauty and innocence should be directed to the glorious battle- 

After some months more had been wasted in this cam- 
paign, the crown Prince gave up the command of the siege of 
Landau to General Konobelsdorf, and returned with his brother 
to Berlin, in November, in order to prepare for the reception of 
their brides. The two Princesses were expected in December; 
they were received on their arrival by their affianced husbands, 
at Potsdam, and on Sunday the 23rd, a bright, clear winter's 
morning, they made their state entrance into Berlin. The 
streets were lined with spectators, all dressed in their holiday 
suits, for the marriage was highly popular, glowing reports of 
the wonderful beauty and goodness of the future crown Princess 
having been spread by all who had seen her. 

The spot fixed upon for the erection of a gate of honour, was 
one which commanded the finest view in Berlin : it was at the 
entrance of the Lindens, where the statue of Frederic the Great 
now stands, and where on one side, the eye seeks the Branden- 

* The King's head-quarters. 

*h See " Campagne in Frankreich." 

LOUISA. 337 

burg gate through the long vista of a double row of palaces; 
and on the other, the view includes the buildings of the univer- 
sity, the library, the royal palace and arsenal, and so away to 
the old castle and the Dom-Kirche ; * and here the brightest 
flowers in gay profusion, and orange and citron trees in fruit 
and blossom, seemed to make even the stern sway of winter yield 
to the sunny influences of those two fair young brides. This 
was the central point towards which, as the cortege advanced, 
surrounded and preceded by the citizens, who, despite all remon- 
strances, persisted in escorting their own crown Princess into 
their own town, the thronging multitudes streamed, gay and 
good-humoured, as only a Berlin crowd can be. When the 
Princess Louisa approached, fifty pretty little maidens, all 
dressed in white, and garlanded with bright blossoms, stepped 
forward to offer her flowers, whilst the leader of the band pre- 
sented her with a poem of welcome. The affectionate greeting 
which hailed her on all sides touched Louisa deeply, and in the 
warmth of her heart, as her readiest means of response, she 
clasped the child in her arms and kissed her repeatedly. 
Imagine the dismay of the new Oberhofmeisterin Frau von 
VosSjf a good and upright lady, whose whole mind was given 
to her office, and to whom a breach of etiquette was nearly as 
bad as that of one of the Ten Commandments ! 
" Mein Gott ! what has your Highness done V 
" What ! " said Louisa, simply; " may I not do that again ?" J 
The wedding took place on Christmas Eve : the whole party 
first repaired to the apartments of the venerable Queen Dowager, 
Elizabeth Christina, whose gentle presence was required to add 
its mild sunshine to the pleasure of the happy party, and who 
accompanied them to the White Hall, where the ceremony was 

* See Bishop Eylert's " Charakterziige aus dem Leben Friedrich Wilhelms III." 
*h Frau von Voss was the widow of Ernst Johan von Voss, the Queen Dowa- 
ger's former Grand Marshal, who has been mentioned above. 
t Eylert. 

* Z 


The citizens of Berlin wished to illuminate in honour of the 
crown Prince's marriage. " Nay," said he, when he heard of 
their intention, " if they wish to celebrate my marriage in a way 
that will give me pleasure, let them bestow upon the poor of 
Berlin the money which the illumination would have cost." 
This incident furnished a true omen of the government to be 
expected by his people, from the hands of Frederic William III., 
not brilliant, but mild and beneficent. 

The marriage of the other young couple, the Princess Frede- 
rica and Prince Louis, took place the day following Christmas- 
day. On the public reception after the crown Prince's marriage, 
every one had appeared in the uniform belonging to his office, 
whether civil or military, in order to do honour to the occasion, 
and the King had expressed his dissatisfaction at seeing so few 
private citizens amongst the crowd. The consequence was, that 
at the next reception, the number of tickets was greatly ex- 
ceeded, and the rooms were so densely crowded that it was very 
difficult for any one to make his way through them : therefore, 
when the King, who was now extremely corpulent,* entered, he 
found it impossible to advance; turning sideways, therefore, 
with his left elbow in advance, and thus making room for the 
Queen, who leaned on his right arm, to follow; "Don't 
disturb yourselves, children," said he; "the Bride-father 
must not be broader than the other guests to-day;" a speech 
that passed from lip to lip, and was repeated in affec- 
tionate remembrance of the kind-hearted King, for many a 
day afterwards. 

Probably never was any marriage more thoroughly " made in 
heaven " than this, between the " angel- fair and angel-good " 
Louisa and the mild and noble-hearted Prince of Prussia. We 
have but to refer to the pages of Bishop Eylert for proof upon 
proof of the entire compatibility of the two natures thus 
united. He delights, in his glowing descriptions of his idolized 

* The ladies in Frankfort, where he was very popular during his stay, used to 
call him " Unser lieber dicke Wilhelm" (our dear fat William). 

LOUISA. 339 

sovereigns, in giving enumerations of antithetically arranged 
qualities, the comparative dissimilarity of which, as in all true 
counterparts, by the closeness of the fittings, make the junction 
so much the firmer. Thus, for instance, he says : " He was 
grave, she was lively ; he was concise, she loved to dilate ; he 
was anxious, she cheerful; he was thoughtful, she was symp^this- 
ing," &c. At the conclusion of the list of corresponding charac- 
teristics, he says : " He was wholly man, she wholly woman, 
full of love and gentleness ; both were one heart, one soul." 
Louisa was, indeed, that " perfect music unto noble words," 
whereby our own poet has so beautifully imaged the harmony 
of the union of true wedlock. Both she and her husband 
were simple and domestic in their tastes, disliking equally and 
avoiding, as far as possible, the irksome restraint of court cere- 
mony. Soon, wondering reports circulated, that the " Sie " of 
polite life was discarded in the intercourse of the crown Prince 
and Princess; it was dreadfully undignified. Representations 
were made to the King that they called each other "Du," like 
the very peasants. The King thought it was right, at least, 
to mention the subject to the crown Prince. " I have heard," 
said he, " that you call the crown Princess ' Du ? ' " " There 
is a good reason for it," replied the Prince, " with ' Du ' one 
knows where one is, with ' Sie * one always has to consider 
whether it should be written with a large or a small letter ! ' " 
It was a strange sight, too, such as Berlin had never been 
used to, to behold that youthful couple wandering, unrestrained 
by the presence of their suite, hand-iii-hand, amidst the gardens 
of their dwelling ; or to see the crown Prince driving the Prin- 
cess alone in an open carriage, like any private citizen with his 
wife. The court days were no small trial to both parties, the 
Prince used to look upon his wife when she had laid aside her 
jewels, on these occasions, as "a pearl restored to its native 
purity." Once taking hold of both her hands, and looking 
deep into her blue eyes, he said, " Thank God ! you are my 
wife once more." " How ? am I not always your wife then ? " 

z 2 


asked she. "Alas! no," replied her husband, "you must so 
often be only the crown Princess." * 

Under these circumstances, it may be imagined that poor Frau 
von Voss had much to contend with. She could not argue 
either Prince or Princess into what she considered a decent 
sense of their position. Besides, there lurked a great deal of 
quiet humour under the grave smile and calm grey eye of 
Frederic William, and he delighted in teasing the poor Oberhof- 
meisterin. Once he desired her to announce to his wife in due 
form, that his Royal Highness the Crown Prince, desired to 
have the honour of paying his respects to her Royal Highness, 
the crown Princess. A proud and happy woman was Frau 
von Voss, as with slow step and dignified demeanour she ap- 
proached the Princess's apartment, threw open the door, and 
beheld the Prince quietly seated on the sofa beside his wife ; he 
had slipped quickly round by another entrance, in order to be 
there before her. "You see, my dear Voss," said he to the 
astonished and crest-fallen mistress of the ceremonies, " My 
wife and I see each other unannounced as often as we please, 
which is as it should be in right Christian order ; but you are 
a charming Oberhofineisterin, arid shall be called Dame d'eti- 
quette." f On another occasion, he allowed Frau von Voss to 
order the state equipage, with outriders, for himself and the 
Princess to pay a visit of ceremony. When the carriage drove 
up, he handed the good lady in, shut the door quickly, and 
ordered the coachman to drive off, whilst he drove the Princess 
as usual in their plain phaeton. J But the crowning indignity 
was a trick which he played her at Paretz, the happy little rural 
retreat which he purchased at a later period, and which both he 
and the crown Princess were very partial to. He invited the 
Oberhofmeisterin to accompany them in a pleasure excursion 
through the woods ; she was highly flattered at the invitation, 
and accepted it graciously. At the appointed hour, instead of 
the elegant carriage in which she had expected a seat, what 
* Eylert. f Ibid. J Ibid. 

LOUISA. 341 

should drive up to the door but a common Leiter-Wagen,* with 
not even a page to assist the ladies to climb into the clumsy 
vehicle. It was too much Frau von Voss could not submit to 
that last indignity. The crown Prince and Princess mounted 
nimbly to their places, and called to her to join them, but she 
shook her head and turned mournfully away unwilling to 
behold their disgraceful departure in that ignominious convey- 

These anecdotes are sufficient to show how happily the stream 
of Louisa's wedded life glided on amidst the flowers which 
marked its early course. Both she and her husband forsook 
the Court as much as possible. The crown Prince's chief 
motive for living in so retired a manner was, that the idea 
of exposing his wife to the contamination of contact with the 
Grafin Lichtenau was intolerable to him, and it was impos- 
sible to frequent the Court without doing so. In addition 
to this, he was naturally of a retiring disposition, and the 
education which he had received had fostered this tendency 
to a painful degree. Allusion has been before made to the 
restraint under which the Prince had been kept by Benisch 
in his childhood. f Besides this drawback, moreover, the 
crown Prince's youth was beset by others of various descrip- 
tions. The petty economy of his uncle during his latter 
years, had provided so sparingly for the maintenance of the 
young Princes, that their very table was insufficiently sup- 
plied, and they frequently rose from it still hungry. J On their 
father's accession things were not much improved, for his 
pleasures and debts required too great an expenditure to permit 
a material increase of the allowance of his sons. Thus cramped 
and confined, both in mind and body, in all imaginable ways, 

* The leiter or ladder- waggon, in general use among the German husbandmen, 
is the most primitive vehicle imaginable, its sides consisting of two broad ladders, 
which converge at bottom, so as to form a capital V when looked at from either 

f See Life of Louisa of Hesse Darmstadt. 

J "Vertraute Brief e." 


those natural abilities which had led Mirabeau to augur a 
tl great future for this young man/' * stinted in their develop- 
ment by want of proper nutrition and cultivation, his inclinations 
thwarted whenever they ventured to show themselves, Frederic 
William became shy, taciturn, and needlessly distrustful of his 
own judgment. It was happy for him and for Prussia that he 
was endowed by nature with what Von Colin calls " so glorious 
a disposition," that this miserable training developed in him 
no worse moral features than these, although, politically, the 
King's absence of self-confidence had the worst possible conse- 
quences. <( The mild, well-disposed, upright Frederic William 
III. was not fitted for the king of so corrupt a nation. A 
despot, without parallel, should have followed Frederic Wil- 
liam II.," says the same often-quoted writer. His later in- 
structor, Leuchsenring, with whom he would have had a better 
chance of improvement, for Leuchsenring was a learned and 
enlightened man, unfortunately did not long continue in his 
office, and when he was placed under Briihl's care, in 1786, 
the mischief was already irreparable. " He already was/' says 
Von Colin, "and remained, reserved, without self-confidence, 
and therefore embarrassed and bashful in public; for this 
reason all representation (Reprdsentiren) was distasteful all 
the ceremonial of his appointed part repugnant to him ; he 
preferred being either by himself or amongst his acquaint- 

The crown Princess, on her side, although calculated to shine 
in society, and not naturally averse to it, fell contentedly into 
her husband's tastes in this, as in all other matters, and, per- 
fectly happy in his society, never dreamed of wishing for any 
other, except that of her sister Frederica. This Princess and 
her husband, an equally attached couple, frequently visited the 
crown Prince and Princess, for the marriage of the two brothers 
seemed to have drawn even closer the bonds of mutual affection 
which had united them ever since their childhood. Eylert says 
* Mirabeau, " Hist. Secrete de la Cour de Berlin." 

LOUISA. 343 

there could not be a more beautiful sight than to behold those 
four young people together, so entire was the feeling of con- 
fidence, esteem and affection which united them. Both his 
daughters-in-law were great favourites with the King, the 
crown Princess especially. He used to call her the " Princess 
of Princesses/' and delighted in procuring her pleasure and 
giving her proofs of his favour. She enjoyed also, in a high 
degree, the friendship and esteem of her mother-in-law, the 
Queen, whilst the aged Queen Dowager gladly admitted the 
affectionate, winning young creature, between whom and her- 
self there were so many points of sympathy of faith and 
feeling, to a large share of her warm heart. Thus gaining 
"golden opinions" from all, happy in her husband, happy in 
herself, the young crown Princess found herself in an Elysium 
such as falls to the lot of few who are " born to trouble " in 
this dark sphere of sin and sorrow, and which was far too calm 
and peaceful to be long untroubled by storms. 

On her first birthday after her marriage, Louisa was feted by 
all ; the " Court and the people emulated each other in giving 
her proofs of their attachment." * The King gave her Oranien- 
burg, the once favourite residence of her namesake, the Electress 
Louisa ; a deputation of gentlemen and ladies waited upon her 
to present her, from His Majesty, with the key. Always long- 
ing to make others share in her happiness and thankfulness, by 
giving them also cause for those emotions, the Princess ex- 
claimed in her delight, " Now I only want a handful of gold 
for the poor of Berlin." " And how big would the birthday- 
child like the handful to be ? " said her father-in-law, smiling ; 
"As big as the heart of the kindest of kings," replied she, 
quickly. The King gave her a bountiful " handful," and the 
poor of Berlin did share her pleasure in the way that pleased 
her best, and that brought down many a blessing on her young 
head, from the lips of age and misery. 

The war in Poland was the first break in the quiet life of 
* " Luise Konigin von Preussen." 


domestic enjoyment led by Louisa and her husband ; the crown 
Prince and his brother set off for the scene of action in May, 
1794. The period of their absence was a painful one to the 
two sisters, they spent much of their time together. Louisa 
wrote, after hearing of the danger to which the Prince had been 
exposed at the storm of Wola, " I tremble at every danger to 
which my husband exposes himself, but I see that the crown 
Prince who follows the King upon the throne, must follow him 
also in the field." Both the Princes behaved with great bravery 
in this expedition, which, however, like the campaign of two 
years before, proved, from various causes, a total failure. 

The anxiety suffered by the crown Princess during the 
Polish campaign, and a fall which she had accidentally sustained, 
resulted in the loss of her first child, a daughter, soon after her 
husband's return; but the following year, 15th October, 1795, 
there was great rejoicing in Berlin over the birth of her 
son Frederic William, the present King of Prussia, The good 
Queen Dowager, Elizabeth Christina, though now in her eighty- 
first year, was still able to be present at the christening, and 
bestow her blessing upon the new-born heir of the kingdom. 
After this, more than a year of quiet, but almost perfect happi- 
ness, was passed by the crown Prince and Princess. They had 
found the palace at Oranienburg too stately, and requiring too 
large a retinue for their simple tastes, and the crown Prince 
therefore purchased the little estate of Paretz, near Potsdam, 
upon which he began to build a comparatively small residence. 
He told Gilly, the director of the works, to remember, whilst 
carrying out the plans, that he was building for a poor gentle- 
man, and not for a crown Prince. This little spot was the 
scene of the happiest part of Frederic William and Louisa's 
lives; here, even after the crown Prince's accession, they 
used to spend all the time which could be spared from the 
strict performance of the calls of government. The King 
used to call himself the " Schulze * of Paretz ; " and the 

* Country Magistrate. 

LOUISA. 345 

Queen, when asked by a foreign Princess whether she did 
not find it dull to remain for weeks and weeks in this " her- 
mitage/' replied, " Oh ! no ; I find it uncommonly pleasant to 
be 'Lady Bountiful' of Paretz." Towards the end of the 
year 1796, a most unforeseen calamity troubled the peace of all 
the members of the royal family. This was the illness and 
death of Prince Louis, the favourite brother of the crown 
Prince. Both he and his wife were unremitting in their attend- 
ance beside the sick bed of the sufferer, and upon them also, in 
the midst of their own grief, devolved the duty of supporting 
the King and Queen, and the young wife of Prince Louis, 
under this affliction. After his death, Louisa had her sister 
removed to apartments close to her own, so that she might 
constantly watch over her, until she should have in some mea- 
sure recovered from the effects of her bereavement, left as she 
was a widow at the age of eighteen. 

The loss of this brother, his bosom friend ever since the days 
of their mutual childhood, was not likely to pass lightly over 
the deep, silent feeling of such a heart as that of the crown 
Prince ; his grief had a severe effect upon his health, and he 
took to his bed immediately after leaving the side of his dead 
brother, and was for some time seriously ill himself. The death 
of Prince Louis was the first of the three bereavements sus- 
tained by the royal family within a year, and was probably an 
accelerating cause of the other two. The next loss was that of 
the Queen Dowager, Elizabeth Christina, which took place about 
a fortnight after the decease of her great nephew, January 13, 
1797. In the autumn of the same year her death was followed 
by that of King Frederic William II., and the crown Prince as- 
cended the throne under the title of Frederic William III. He 
had been asked how he would be called upon his accession ; 
" Frederic William/' replied he ; " Frederic is unattainable for 
me;" for so great was his admiration of the character and abili- 
ties of his uncle, that he shrunk from seeming, even by a name, 
to imply that he was worthy to succeed to the throne of so great 


a man. At first there was an effort on the part of the officials of 
the Court, to subject the new King to the customary routine of 
court etiquette, but he rebelled so vigorously that the attempt 
was at length given up ; thus, when both the folding-doors were 
thrown open to admit His Majesty, whereas one had sufficed for 
him as crown Prince " Am I grown so stout since yesterday 
that you find that necessary ? " said he ; and, on observing the 
Grand Marshal standing behind his chair at table, he asked why 
he did so. " Etiquette demands it, your Majesty/' " How 
long must you stand there then ? " " Till your Majesty first 
drinks." "Does etiquette prescribe a particular draught?" 
" Not that I know of, Sire." " Give me that water-bottle, then." 
In this manner all restraints of the kind were removed as far as 
possible. People were astonished at the familiar terms " My 
wife," "My husband," which the King and Queen used in 
speaking of each other ; the public was rather offended at seeing 
them still driving or walking out unattended, with as little 
ceremony as before. A passenger through the streets might 
very possibly chance to meet the King alone and on foot, like 
any private gentleman. At the Christmas "Markt" or fair that 
year, the King and Queen were to be seen arm in arm, as 
usual, going amongst the stalls, purchasing here and there, and 
insisting on waiting quietly until prior customers were served. 
The author of the " Vertraute Briefe " seems to think, that the 
King thus too much lessened the distance between himself and 
his subjects, and that by dissipating the halo which gene- 
rally envelopes majesty, he ran some risk of not being duly 
respected. But, after the Prussians had recovered from the 
shock of finding that their King would feel, and think, and act 
very much like any other mere, good man, and could be a king 
without the constant attendance of a retinue, they began to pay 
him a great deal more actual respect than they had accorded to 
any of his predecessors, because they could see with their own 
eyes that he was not only a man, but an upright, noble-hearted 
man; they found, too, that he was, in point of fact, endea- 

LOUISA. 347 

vouring himself to ascertain their wants and wishes by thus 
mixing with them, and that he was also placing the greatest 
and most nattering confidence in them, especially by trusting 
his beautiful young wife, whom they could see that he treasured 
like the apple of an eye, amongst them, and so at length they 
became very proud of his confidence and very anxious to 
deserve it ; they began also to think of the perfect love between 
him and that fair young creature they called her angel 
oftener than woman by his side, as of something very holy 
and very beautiful, and to wish that affection a little like it 
might bless their own unions ; and thus, example was doing a 
great work, and it was not such very bad policy for the King 
to let people see he was a man, after all. 

But there was a set of persons who looked with very dif- 
ferent eyes upon the young King and Queen, and unfortunately 
the set was a numerous one in Berlin at that time, and had 
many members even amongst the highest nobility ; these 
were the people who had lived unclean lives so long, 
that they had altogether ceased to believe in the existence of 
anything pure, or holy, or beautiful. Having degraded love, 
trampled on marriage, and scoffed at religion themselves, they 
were unable to believe that the King was really a faithful lover 
and husband, or the Queen in truth a pure and pious wife, and 
they watched and whispered and coined, hoping by means of 
any little, venomous lie to throw discredit upon that, which, if 
true, must place them by contrast, in what a horrible abyss of 
filth and despair ! But it was of no use watching and whisper- 
ing ; where all was bright and clear as the noon-day, what was 
there to find out through any key-hole of malice ? It was in 
vain to coin, the metal rang base, and was flung back with 
scorn at the utterer. And thus, too pure to be assailable even 
by calumny, doing, in unconscious humility, a great service to 
their kind, seeking first in faith and earnestness the kingdom 
of God and his righteousness, those two of God's children, 
joined together by Him with His own blessing, went on hand- 


in-hand, fearing no evil, through the paradise of love, where 
He had placed them for a little season, to make them strong 
against the coming time, when He should require them to come 
forth and fight manfully, as his soldiers and servants, in the 
great battle of life. 

In May, 1798, King Frederic William III. set off to receive 
the homage of his provinces ; he went first to Konigsberg, 
the Queen having started a day or two previously, because, as 
she was expecting her confinement before very long, it was 
desirable that she should only make short stages ; they arrived 
at their destination nearly at the same time. The Queen un- 
dertook this jourruey, because she and her husband being 
always happiest when together, they did not wish to be 
separated unnecessarily. All extra ceremonial had been strictly 
prohibited at the various towns which the royal party was to 
visit, on account of the Queen's health, so that, says one of 
the many memoirs of Queen Louisa, the receptions of the new 
sovereigns seemed like "a succession of family fetes." At Star- 
gard, nine little girls brought Louisa flowers, and one of them 
told her that their number should have been ten, but that one 
child had been sent home because she " looked so ugly." Like 
most gentle affectionate women, Louisa was very fond of little 
children,* and additionally so since she had been a mother; 
children always came to her without fear, and received her 
caresses gladly : the thought, therefore, of this poor little one 
" sitting at home and weeping its bitter childish tears " on her 
account, was more than she could bear, so she sent to fetch 
the child, that she might comfort it herself out of her tender 
mother's heart. At a muster of troops in another place, she 
saw a grey-headed old man feebly trying to make his way 
through the crowd, in order to obtain a sight of her ; she im- 
mediately begged an officer to go and bring him nearer that he 
might see her plainly. The old man lifted his cap from his 
silver hair, and took a long, steady look at the fair face that 
* She said, "Die Kinder-Welt ist Meine Welt." 

LOUISA. 319 

smiled upon him so kindly, wondering whether, when, before 
long now, he should see the angels of heaven, their faces would 
be very different from that. At Koslin the people came to her 
carriage and begged her to alight and taste their " Eier- 
kuchen /' at Daiitzig they had built a bower for her on the 
Karlsberg, whence she might have a beautiful view of the 
surrounding landscape; after her departure, they called the 
place by her name (Luisens-hain), that it might not be for- 
gotten where the young Queen had stood to look over their 
country; thus, in most of the places she visited on this 
journey, some particular spot where she had stood, or sat, was 
consecrated, as it were, to her, and kept sacred " as a sort of 
family altar " ever afterwards. 

When, subsequently, she visited Silesia with the King, 
no restrictions on the score of health being necessary, her 
enjoyment was intense, for the charm of beautiful scenery 
which always had a powerful effect upon her imagination, was 
now enhanced by the pleasure of viewing it by her husband's 
side. Eylert describes how, on their visit to the Riesengebirge, 
the King, as they ascended on horseback, rode first, playfully 
endeavouring to prevent her from catching a glimpse of the view, 
until she had attained the exact point where the whole glorious 
landscape might burst upon her sight at once; whilst she 
made sly attempts from time to time to get a peep over his 
shoulder from behind ; but when the summit was reached, and 
a scene of wild, stern majesty mountains towering peak above 
peak, bleak, lonely rocks, and awful precipices revealed itself, 
the King stood gazing, silent and reverential, and she beside 
him, with folded hands and awe-filled eyes, both paying mute 
homage in that grand temple of the God of Nature. The next 
day they visited the mines, and found a party of the miners pre- 
pared with a boat, to convey them through the subterraneous 
passage of the Stollen-water, at the Fuchs-grabe. One of the 
boatmen, when he had grown old, and Louisa had long forsaken 
earth, used to tell how, as the boat passed along, glimpses of 


the dark water beneath, and the rocky roof above, being revealed 
at intervals by the torch -light, when the distant and solemn 
tones of the hymn " Praise ye the Lord, the mighty King of 
honour," came rolling grandly along the vaulted passage, she 
grasped her husband's hand, as he sat beside her, (for it was his 
favourite air,) and whispered almost below her breath, " Slowly, 
good steersman ; oh ! slowly." " In all my life T never saw a 
woman with such a face as hers. She looked grand like a 
Queen, and yet as simple and friendly as a child. Mem Gott ! 
what a woman that was," the old man used to say, and the 
tears would trickle down his withered cheeks as he added, 
" Why did the dear God let her die so early ? " The Queen 
herself put her own present into the hands of the men who had 
procured her so much pleasure ; and the ducats thus bestowed 
were not spent, but preserved as holy relics by them.* 

The simple folks of Silesia treated her with an affectionate, 
though respectful familiarity, that won her love in an especial 
degree; at one place the women brought her a set of baby- 
linen of their own weaving ; at Hundsfeld, they decked out the 
horses they had to provide for her carriage, with flowers, bows 
of ribbon, and gold and silver tinsel, as was their custom at a 
wedding.f On this, and similar journeys, the halts, when the 
pleasant meal was spread under the trees in the open air, and 
when the hands of Louisa herself arranged all for comfort and 
elegance at the rustic table, were seasons of particular enjoy- 
ment. Sometimes, when the people lined the road for some 
distance, before reaching a town, the King would lean back, 
exhausted with the effort of constantly bowing to them, and 
exclaim, as he saw his wife still returning their salutations, with 
as beaming a smile as ever on her beautiful lips, " How can 
you hold out so long?" and she would reply, "Do look at the 
good, kind people, with their honest eyes !" 

When at home, the King and Queen resumed their old sim- 

* Eylert. 

t See Rautenberg's "Luise Konigin von Preussen eine Denkmal." 

LOUISA. 351 

pie happy mode of life at Paretz, In the autumn of 1798, 
they gave a harvest feast to the peasants of the place. Kockeritz 
describes this country fete, as well as the way in which the 
King and Queen passed their time here : " I have spent happy 
days with our gracious ruler, at Paretz. We have diverted 
ourselves extremely well, and enjoyed, to the full, all the plea- 
sures of a country life. These good people enjoy so thoroughly 
the simplicity of nature, when entirely free from constraint ; 
they take a hearty part in the quaint expression of the plea- 
sure of the country folks. Especially at the joyous harvest sup- 
per, the fair and noble royal lady forgot her rank, and mingled 
in the jocund dance of the young village men and maidens, and 
danced with them merrily, in the best meaning of the words 
freedom and equality. I myself did not remember my five and 
fifty years, and danced with her, and so also did the Frau 
Oberhofmeisterin von Voss, being invited by our gracious 
master. Oh ! how happy we all were ! " Kockeritz had been 
appointed Adjutant to the Prince, during the life of King 
Frederic William II. His character strongly resembled that 
of his master in many respects, and had unfortunately the same 
failing a want of self-confidence. But he was like him in his 
simplicity and integrity of purpose, and like him also in his 
sincere and earnest piety. A strong friendship subsisted be- 
tween the two men thus similarly constituted. The crown 
Princess treated Kockeritz with the greatest distinction, be- 
cause he was her husband's friend, and because he was a 
good man; both equally binding motives with her. Eylert 
relates, that observing the old man always to retire after 
dinner, though she and her husband would have preferred his 
remaining, she watched him, and found that he withdrew to 
smoke a pipe. The next day she had one in readiness, and 
lighting it herself, presented it to him, saying, that now, 
nothing need deprive her and her husband of the pleasure of 
feeling that he was quite at home with them. The same author 
gives manifold anecdotes, all proving the kind, unselfish care 


with which the wishes and feelings of even their lowest attend- 
ants were consulted by these two rarely- constituted persons 
the care with which they sought an opportunity for repairing 
any inadvertent or hasty expression towards them, as in the 
case of the servant, who, at one place where the Schwarz-brod 
of the country, which the King always took when travelling, 
had been found bad, provided white bread when they re-visited 
it, and was reprimanded for providing luxuries by the King, 
who did not know why it was done, but who afterwards made 
amends by a kind speech, and rewarded the forethought by 
a present. And in the instance of the poor woman, who, 
having wandered unconsciously into the Queen's seat at church, 
sat down there, at the sign of a kind lady, and was after- 
wards terrified at the reproaches of the Grand Marshal, for 
having sat in the presence of the Queen ; when Louisa, hearing 
of the result of what she had intended in kindness, knew no 
rest until she had sought out Eylert himself, and sent him to 
comfort the poor creature. These and a thousand more such 
incidents * might be related, all showing how deeply the pre- 

* Eylert also relates a story of a poor fisherman's widow who came to see 
whether the "brother of the dead Prince Louis" would complete the cottage 
which that Prince had begun to build for her, for, said she, " Syn broder war en 
ehrlik gut man, und ich denke he wart et ok sien (Platt-Deutsch f or "his brother 
was an honourable, good man, and I think he may be so too"). The King built 
the cottage, and the woman brought him a dish of "Neun-auge" (lampreys) as 
his reward. He took them to the Queen, saying, ' ' Siehst du ? Aemtchen bringt 
Kappchen," and she decorated the dish with flowers at dinner, and sent it, with 
an arch glance to her husband. 

The King used generally to breakfast in the Queen's apartments, where fresh 
fruit, his favourite accompaniment to this meal, was always provided for him. 
One day, seeing a new cap on her toilette table, he asked how much it cost ? 
"Oh ! it was very cheap," said she, " it only cost four Thalers." " Four Tha- 
lers ? Do you call that cheap ?" said the King, and beckoning to an old soldier, 
Christian Brande by name, who was a favourite with him, from a window, he 
signed to him to come in. When the old man entered the room, the King said, 
" Do you see that pretty lady on the sofa ? She is very rich she gave four Thalers 
for that thing there ; go and ask her to give you so much." The Queen laughed, 
and gave him the money, and then pointing to her husband, said, roguishly, 
" You see that fine gentleman there at the window ? he is much richer than I, he 
gives me all I have ; go and ask him to give you twice as much as I have done !" 

LOUISA. 353 

cept, "Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself" was im- 
pressed upon the hearts of both Frederic William and Louisa. 
It may be imagined, that with so intimate a knowledge of the 
habits and wants of the people, as, from her frequent inter- 
course with them Louisa possessed, the demands upon her 
purse were not few ; besides, her hand was always open, it was 
so much easier to give than to withhold ; the claims of destitute 
children and mothers she could never even try to resist. Thus, 
it not unfrequently happened, that her resources were exhausted 
when some urgent call made her particularly anxious for 
a supply. Wolter, her chamberlain, told her, on one of these 
occasions, that he could give her no more, as it would set his 
accounts wrong. She was in great perplexity how to meet the 
demand, when, on going to her escritoire shortly afterwards, 
she found the recently empty drawer, replenished. " Ah ! what 
arigel has put this here?" exclaimed she. "There are so 
many angels/' said her husband, " I only know the name of 
one ; but you know the text, ' God giveth to his beloved sleep- 

I must give one more scene from the pages of Bishop Eylert 
before I pass from the private, to the public life of Queen Louisa. 
She and her husband were spending the Sunday evening with 
their chosen friends, Eylert, Kockeritz, and Briihl, on the 
" Pfauen Insel." f They had both been much impressed by 
the former's sermon, preached in the course of the day, on those 
words from the Book of Ruth, " Where thou goest, I will go," 
&c. The beauty of the calm quiet evening and the sounds of 
distant music which floated to them on the soft summer air, 
aided the effect of the reflections with which their minds were 
engaged; a sort of solemn Sabbath-stillness gradually stole 
over the whole party. At length the King rose, and saying 

These and a variety of other anecdotes, given by Eylert, are to be found in detail 
in Mrs. Richardson's "History of Queen Louisa." 

* This passage in the 127th Psalm is thus translated in the German version 
instead of as we have it, ' ' For so he giveth his beloved sleep. " 

t Peacock's Island. 

A A 


softly to his wife, " I and my house, we will serve the Lord," 
withdrew into the deepening shadows of the trees. With a 
ruler animated by such sentiments the country of Prussia was 
sure of a blessing sooner or later. 

But occupied as Louisa was with all her happy domestic 
employments, and with her children, whom she kept beside her 
as much as possible, and upon whose infant minds the first in- 
delible principles of love and faith and duty, were impressed by 
herself, and enforced by her own lip and eye, besides this best 
mother's privilege and duty, and besides the time she carefully 
preserved for her books and her music for she was an appre- 
ciating reader of good books, and like her namesake, Louisa of 
Orange, a tasteful performer, both instrumental and vocal it 
must not be imagined that the claims of the Court and of society 
were neglected ; on the contrary, no Queen was ever more 
punctual in her appointments none ever more gracefully digni- 
fied in maintaining her position, at the same time that she 
banished much of the formality which had hitherto made the 
society of the Court so tedious. Eylert describes the smile with 
which, on entering the room, leaning on her husband's arm, she 
greeted the waiting circle, as something altogether exquisite; 
and then the few words just the right words for every one, 
and the happy tact which set all at their ease, without making 
them forget their place even the exquisite taste of her dress, 
all combined to produce an effect which, though gradual, was 
marked and most beneficial. " The Court/' says the author of 
the memoir I have so often already quoted,* " soon began to 
resemble a domestic circle " men who had formerly foresworn 
its precincts, because taste, learning, and good feeling had no 
longer place there, were now commonly to be seen in the Queen's 
assemblies. Another author remarks, that "the Court is 
especially the model of a household; every intelligent woman, 
every careful mother, should have a portrait of the Queen in the 
family room. Formerly it was necessary to flee with wife and 

* Luise Konigin von Preussen." 

LOUISA. 355 

children, from the Court as from an infected spot ; now one can 
withdraw from the general corruption of morals to the Court as 
to a happy island. A young man used formerly to go to the 
remote provinces, or at least to families unconnected with the 
town and Court, if he wished to find a good wife now a man 
may go to the Court as the chief seat of all that is best and 
fairest, and think himself fortunate in receivin'g a wife from the 
hands of the Queen. True wonders of transuhstantiation are 
these, which have changed a Court into a family, a throne into 
a holy place, a royal marriage into a union of hearts." 

No remark can be needed, after such testimony as this, upon 
the purifying effect which the mere example of one couple was 
producing upon the manners of a whole people, nor upon the 
duty which such instances show to be imperative upon all, in 
whatever position of influence, to live themselves as others ought 
to live. 

It is painful to leave this first season of Louisa's pure, unal- 
loyed happiness, to follow her through all the trials and suffer- 
ings which were necessary, even to such a character as hers, 
thoroughly to " purge away all the dross " which, as she was 
a child of sinful humanity, still lurked within its depths, and 
to render it, cleansed from all earthly stains, snow-white and 
radiant, a fit companion for the angels who were waiting to 
lead her up to the bright mansions where her Father called her 
to dwell. 

Before proceeding to relate the events which so rudely roused 
Louisa and her husband from their dream of happiness, and 
plunged them into that rough sea of misfortune whose bois- 
terous waves broke the heart of the gentle Queen with their 
cruel buffeting, bearing her to an early grave, and leaving her 
husband a desolate and shipwrecked man upon the barren 
strand of life, it is necessary to take a glance at the various 
causes which ultimately produced these events. 

On the death of Frederic William II., a King of whom one 
of his own subjects exclaims, " Well for him well for us that 

A A 2 


he is no more ! the State was near its dissolution," * he left 
to his successor an inheritance of "three very bad things, 
namely, the demoralisation of the nation, the ministers who had 
formed his own Cabinet, and the exhaustion of the treasury ."f 
The French campaign of 1792 had drained the resources of 
the latter. Frederic William II. was no economist, and at his 
death his debts amounted, some say to twenty, some to forty 
million Thalers.J His son endeavoured to liquidate these 
claims by the strictest limitation of his personal, household, 
and official outlay ; but economy in matters of this sort does 
not go far towards replenishing the exhausted coffers of a 
nation. The second part of this fatal legacy, the ministry who 
were in power during the important period of the early part of 
Frederic William III/s reign formed a triumvirate, the principal 
characteristics of whose members, were, respectively, weakness, 
craft, and self-interest. These three men were Haugwitz, 
Lombard, and Lucchesini. Haugwitz, the Minister for Foreign 
Affairs, to whom allusion has been made before, was a man of 
neither character nor principle ; he was a mystic and a sensual- 
ist; now Austrian, now French, never Prussian of any worth; 
always at the beck of Lombard, (his cabinet-rath). Lombard, || 
like most of the French colony to which he belonged, was more 
French than Prussian in his political views. He was sent on 
a mission to Napoleon at Brussels in 1803, and was dazzled by 
the flattery bestowed upon him by the First Consul, and the 
glitter of the six thousand Napoleons d'or^f which found their 

* Massenbach ; see Vehse. 

t Vehse. 

I Ibid. See also " Vertraute Brief e." 

Gentz says, "Lombard exercised the most entire sway over Haugwitz, I 
have heard him say to his brother, " Tell Count Haugwitz to come to me to-mor- 
row morning, I have something to say to him." See Vehse. 

|| His father was a friseur, the father of his wife a barber. He used to jest 
upon the lowliness of his birth, speaking of his father as a feu mon pere de pou- 
dreuse memoire, and asking his wife whether it was more correct to say, "les 
hirondelles frisent ou rasent la surface des eaux." 

1i Merkel, editor of the " Freinuthigen," a political journal. 

LOUISA. 357 

way into his needy purse, and which bought him and with him, 
Prussia. Lucchesini was an Italian by nation ; crafty and 
calculating by nature ; neither French nor Prussian by feeling ; 
a thoroughly selfish, interested man, who, so long as he served 
himself, cared not whom he disserved. Frederic William III. 
had, unfortunately, but little insight into character ; he took 
people at their own estimate. Upright and honourable himself, 
he did not discover that others were not so ; distrustful of his 
own really sound opinion, he took that of men who were 
swayed by self-interest and ambition. Thus he was led to 
commit the management of the kingdom to characters like 
these, and thus, " as the hour of destiny arrived, was Frederic 
William completely deceived deceived by a characterless 
courtier ; a half-Frenchman, who made it his boast to act as if 
wholly so; and a crafty Italian adventurer, to whom nothing 
was so important as his own advantage."* Yet one more 
legacy of evil omen, had Frederic William II. left to his suc- 
cessor the consequences of the treaty of Basle, by which he 
had " abandoned the house of Orange, sacrificed Holland, laid 
open the empire to French invasion, and prepared the rain of 
the ancient Germanic Constitution." f 

Here were some of the primary causes of Prussia's misfor- 
tunes ; yet, with Frederic the Great at the head of affairs, worse 
conjunctures of circumstances than these, had been brought to 
a prosperous issue. But that which rendered the late monarch's 
unfortunate legacies so fatal to the kingdom, was, undoubtedly, 
that want of self-reliance in his son which led him to place 
confidence in, and to follow the guidance of such men as those 
who formed his ministry ; hence, also, resulted the fact that 
his political measures were so frequently hesitating, the exe- 
cution of them dilatory, and the result of them unsuccessful. 

The position of affairs in Europe had long been becoming 
more and more critical. The French armies under their daring 
young commander, after revolutionising all the smaller neigh- 
* Merkel; see VeLse. + Alison's "History of Europe." 


bouring States, and compelling Austria to sue for peace, were 
once more threatening the very existence of that empire. The 
New Coalition turned to Prussia to aid in quelling the arrogance 
of a foe, who was thus placing in jeopardy the whole structure 
of the continental system. But Frederic William was averse to 
war upon principle; his ministry were likewise averse to it, 
though not from the same cause. Under these circumstances, 
it was decided that Prussia should preserve a strict neutrality. 
This policy was satisfactory to no party, lost admirable chances 
of re-establishing the balance of power in Europe by a timely 
interference, and at last, by irritating the conqueror, and pro- 
voking his contempt, prepared the way for the dismemberment 
of Prussia. Prince Louis Ferdinand said bitterly but truly 
with regard to it, " From the very love of peace, Prussia takes 
a hostile position towards all other Powers, and will thereby be 
one day mercilessly overthrown by one of' those Powers, which 
may find it the right moment to make war. Then we shall 
fall, without support, and perhaps without honour." 

But the leaning of Frederic William's Cabinet towards Napo- 
leon prevented the neutrality of Prussia from being actually so 
strict as it professed to be. Napoleon held out the annexation 
of Hanover as a lure to entice her into an alliance with him, 
and though Frederic William's conscientious scruples made him 
hesitate to commit so gross an infraction on the rights of 
nations, still he felt that the bait was a tempting one. The 
death of the Russian Emperor, Paul I., and the accession of 
Alexander, in 1801, having detached Russia from the armed 
neutrality of the Northern Powers, another attempt was made 
by that State, in alliance with England and Austria, to induce 
Prussia to join their alliance. Hardenberg's appointment to 
succeed Haugwitz, in 1804, had given hopes of more vigorous 
measures, but though it did, in all probability, prevent an 
alliance with France on the above-mentioned disgraceful terms, 
yet Prussia still clung to her old system of neutrality; and 
when the Russian minister demanded permission for the passage 

LOUISA. 359 

of troops through the Prussian territories, the request gave so 
much offence, as even to produce an order for troops to march 
towards the Russian boundaries ; when a hasty movement of the 
French Emperor, which violated the articles of Prussia's neu- 
trality, without even the ceremony of asking leave, by marching 
French troops through her territory of Anspach, caused her 
suddenly to listen to the proposals of the Emperor Alex- 

Parties ran high meanwhile at Berlin ; even the common 
people formed into factions. There were the war party, the 
English party, the peace party, &c., whilst the press and even 
the theatres became the medium of party.* Prince Louis Fer- 
dinand, son of Frederic the Great's youngest brother Ferdinand 
perhaps the most extraordinarily-gifted man in Prussia, was 
at the head of the war party ; he had no opinion of the system 
of neutrality. He foresaw the " chains that awaited Prussia." 
te It is our weakness, our pusillanimity," said he, " which will 
make it easy for Napoleon to subjugate Europe." Fiery and 
prompt in action himself, his cousin's hesitation and want of 
self-confidence excited his pity and also his contempt. One day 
in the Museum, he asked the guardian of the place whom a 
bust, which he pointed out, represented; the man (a Suabian) 
answered, "that is the war-god Marcsh.f "Yes," exclaimed 
the Prince, " this is the god March ! and that is the god 
Halt ! " pointing to a bust of the King which stood near. 
Nevertheless, he entertained a high respect for the King's cha- 
racter and natural talents ; he said of him, " I know only one 
man in the Prussian States, who, through his knowledge of 

* Unzelman, the actor, especially, introduced extempore political allusions into 
his parts ; he was threatened with imprisonment, nevertheless he still continued 
to throw out inuendos of this kind : one night a fellow actor whispered to him, 
after one of these allusions, " That's punishable." He replied, going on with his 
part, " Punishable, did you say ? What patriot would hesitate to add his mite 
to build the altar of the Fatherland?" "You will certainly be imprisoned," 
said the other. ' ' I shall be imprisoned ? No matter ; better Prussian einges- 
teckt than French hohngenecJctf" 

f The provincial pronunciation of the name Mars. 


affairs, and his abilities, would be in a position to save the king- 
dom, if he would only trust himself, and that man is Frederic 
William III." 

The murder of the Due d'Enghien, in 1804, excited the most 
violent feelings of indignation in all the other States of Europe, 
in Prussia particularly ; even the gentle young Queen, stimulated 
by a just abhorrence of the perpetrator of this crime, was induced 
to wish for war. Prince Louis Ferdinand, who, like every one 
else that came within her influence, admired her exceedingly, 
endeavoured to induce her to rouse her husband to exertion : of 
course scandalous but most false accusations were immediately 
laid against Louisa's conduct by the peace-party, so soon as it 
became evident that the Prince sought the Queen's society ; but 
these reports did not reach her ears till afterwards, by means 
of Napoleon's agents. Her brother and others who were known 
to possess influence with her, were also employed to endeavour 
to obtain the use of her power over the King ; thus her mind, 
roused to the state of her country, became constantly filled with 
that one absorbing subject : still, however, she expressed no 
opinion upon the subject which was engrossing her thoughts, 
and filling her mind with anxiety. The infraction of the Prus- 
sian neutrality, by the march of the French troops through 
Anspach, had excited her indignation in common with that of 
the country generally, to a high degree ; when, therefore, the 
Emperor of Russia came to Berlin, in 1805, she received and 
entertained him with a pleasure which showed how entirely her 
heart was on the side of his party. The Emperor Alexander, 
then in the flower of his young manhood, enthusiastic and 
ardently chivalrous, was much charmed with the lovely Prus- 
sian Queen, and greatly taken also with her reserved and silent 
but friendly husband, whose calm, grave character offered such 
a contrast to his own fervid enthusiasm. 

A somewhat romantic episode is said to have taken place be- 
tween the two young monarchs, who, visiting at midnight the 
tomb of Frederic the Great, clasped hands, and vowed eternal 

LOUISA. 361 

friendship and alliance above his ashes. The convention of 
Potsdam was the result of the Emperor's visit ; still, however, 
Prussia remained inactive, and even tried to compose her own 
difference with France, and to mediate between that country 
and the other Powers; and when Napoleon declined to treat 
with Hardenberg, Haugwitz was recalled, and despatched to in- 
form him of the Convention of Potsdam, and of the Prussian 
proposals in accordance with its views. But finding the Em- 
peror upon the eve of the battle of Austerlitz, Haugwitz delayed 
the execution of his mission until he should see the result of the 
day; and then, upon being received coldly by Napoleon, who 
showed him a copy of the Convention which he had received 
from sources of his own, telling him there could be, now, no 
further subject of negotiation, the faithless ambassador forsook 
the object of his mission, and made that "unholy compact"* 
with Napoleon, of which the annexation of Hanover to Prussia 
was the principal condition. When the intelligence arrived at 
Berlin, the feeling of generous indignation at this base pro- 
ceeding was universal. "The English party gnashed their 
teeth ; the war party cursed ; the poets made epigrams ; the 
Queen was inconsolable : every one saw that the glory of 
Prussia was buried in the weakness of the Government." f 
Hardenberg, indignant at an action which brought upon 
Prussia the deserved reproach of duplicity, cowardice, and 
cupidity, proffered his resignation : the Queen entreated him 
not to forsake the Cabinet, of which he was the only influential 
member, who had either principle or talent; Hardenberg 
nevertheless retired from his office. 

The confederation of the Rhine, the appropriation of Holland 
as a kingdom for Louis Buonaparte, and of Juliers and Berg as 
a duchy for Murat; the open allusions made by the French 
officers, and even by Napoleon himself, J to the fate that awaited 

* Vehse. t "Vertraute Brief e." 

J Napoleon wrote to his brother Louis at this time, " Prussia and her allies 
shall be destroyed." " Luise Koniyin von Preussen." 


Prussia ; and the proposed treaty with England, to the total dis- 
regard of the Prussian possessions and interests, at last com- 
pletely opened Frederic William's eyes, He saw on what a 
precipice he was standing, and, as is often the case with persons 
of a hesitating disposition, rushed precipitately into action at 

The Queen, in the meanwhile, had been at Pyrmont, to take 
the baths of that place, for her spirits had been much de- 
pressed, and her health had suffered severely, owing to the loss 
of one of her children early in the spring of the year 1806. 
The people of Berlin said, that she had been sent thither 
by the war party, w r ho hoped, that in his anxiety for her return, 
the King would be more inclined to adopt those measures, 
towards which she was inclined.* This, however, was without 
foundation, except as regarded her husband's wish for her 
return. Neither was she ever that active agent of the war 
party, which she is represented to have been. There was no 
doubt as to her wishes on the subject ; but her agency was 
rather the tacit one of those unexpressed wishes than anything 
else, for she had made it a rule, as she herself said,f not 
to interfere in political affairs. Besides, on that one point, her 
husband was jealous of anything like an attempt at using 
influence, even from her ; and she respected his wishes far too 
much to disregard them, even 011 points in which she was as 
much interested as in the war question. "The Queen of 
Prussia/' say the " Loscheimer " to the " Neue Feuerbrande," 
" has never advised either peace or war ; and in the govern- 
ment, especially, she has never interfered." She was not am- 
bitious, and had no wish for power ; besides, at Pyrmont, she 
had heard but little of what was going on ; and when her hus- 
band met her at Potsdam, on her return, the information that 
he had declared war on France was altogether news to her.J 

Now, indeed, she was at liberty to display all her enthu- 

* " Vertraute Briefe." f See her conversation with Stein, page 370. 

+ "Luise Konigin von Preussen." 

LOUISA. 363 

siasm in the cause ; and it was expressed in the liveliest man- 
ner. Persons who were unfriendly towards her at the time, 
exclaimed, ee How can so good and virtuous a woman as the 
Queen is said to be, feel so much inclined for war ?" * But, 
as the best men and clearest thinkers in Prussia thought as 
she did on the subject, there is no need to enter into the ques- 
tion, nor to state that, viewed in themselves, she also, in 
common with all humane persons, regarded war and bloodshed 
as fearful evils. The chief female head of the war party was, 
rather the Princess Radizwill, Prince Louis Ferdinand's sister, 
than the Queen ; this lady was of a quicker temper, and less 
docile disposition than Louisa, and she expressed her opinions 
in the most unqualified terms, speaking of Napoleon with 
the bitterest hatred and scorn ; whilst the Queen, on the con- 
trary, spoke of him "with an inward shudder, as that before 
which all of good and pure must fall." But she permitted her- 
self no words of hatred or scornful jesting upon the subject, f 
it was too deeply felt to admit of that. 

Preparations for war were now being carried on with a rapi- 
dity to the full as injudicious as the former hesitation had 
been. Frederic William was about, with equal bravery and 
imprudence, to rush single-handed into conflict with an adver- 
sary, with whom no continental power had hitherto been able 
to cope. Such an undertaking should have suggested the 
most extraordinary precaution and foresight in the adjustment 
of measures, the most accurate calculation of chances, and, at 
least, an ample provision of supplies to meet emergencies. 
But none of these things were attended to as they ought to 
have- been. Plans enough, it is true, there were, some of which 
might have been successful, with an efficient commander-in- 
chief to carry them out ; but of such a commander, the Prus- 
sian army was unfortunately destitute; mere conjecture was 

* The "Licht-Strahlen," in the years 1805-7, quote this remark, and com- 
ment upon it. 

t See "Luise Konigin von Preussen." 


allowed to take the place of calculation in its councils \ and 
even the commissariat department was so wretched a failure, 
that, before the army had been long in the field, both men and 
horses were starving. Von Colin gives as an instance of the 
disgraceful neglect in this department, the fact, that a horse 
belonging to the service was found to be in such a wretched 
condition, that six Berlin street urchins bought it for six 
Groschen, and all mounting upon its back, rode in triumph into 
the Thiergarten, thus furnishing a sufficiently lucid commentary 
upon the application of the generous aids, which, although it 
was a year of scarcity, all the provinces were pouring into the 

But the excitement and exhilaration caused by the prospect of 
action, prevented the consequences of this precipitation from 
being foreseen by more than the few. Troops were marching 
from all quarters, all was bustle and motion. The Baireuth Re- 
giment, upon the death of the Margrave, had been re-named the 
" Queen's Regiment of Dragoons." As it passed Berlin, in its 
road to Thuringia, the Queen went out to meet it, and headed 
it in her carriage (not on horseback, as has been stated by some 
authors), dressed in a spencer of the regimental colours, a com- 
pliment which so gratified the men, that they begged for the 
garment, and preserved it as a sacred relic of their Queen ever 
afterwards. This was the occasion of that famous bulletin 
of Napoleon's, one of a long series of offensive documents 
directed against the beautiful young Queen, whom any other 
man in Europe, friend or foe, would have honoured for her 
enthusiasm in her country's cause. " The Queen of Prussia is 
with the army," runs the bulletin, "dressed as an amazon, 
wearing the uniform of her dragoons, writing twenty letters a 
day, to spread the conflagration in all directions. We seem to 
behold Armida in her madness, setting fire to her palace. 

* Pomerania and Magdeburg prepared to deliver corn gratis. All the pro- 
vinces emulated one another in their liberality. The King was even obliged to 
limit their contributions. 

LOUISA. 365 

After her, follows Prince Louis of Prussia, a young Prince, 
full of bravery and courage, who, hurried on by the spirit 
of party, flatters himself that he shall find a great renown in 
the vicissitudes of war. Following the example of these illus- 
trious persons, all the Court cries, ' To arms V But, when war 
shall have reached them, all will seek to exculpate themselves 
from having been instrumental in bringing its thunder to the 
peaceful plains of the north." * 

These bulletins, which caused Louisa so much more grief 
and annoyance than the paltry lies they circulated were worth, 
although they have long assumed their true importance, were 
then matter of so much discussion as to their truth or false- 
hood, that most of the Queen's historians have sought either to 
disprove them, or to apologise, as it were, for the fact that she 
followed her husband to the very battle-field. Therefore, since 
so much has been said and written upon the subject, I adduce 
some of the testimonies which have been brought to her purity 
of intention, and freedom from the mere desire for novelty, in 
this part of her conduct ; although full many a noble-hearted, 
true English lady can testify, that it is no unnatural or un- 
womanly thing, for a wife to wish to accompany her husband to 
the scene of danger, perhaps of death. Besides Louisa's own 
desire, then, to be with the husband from whom she had pro- 
mised to be parted only by death, it was his wish also, and 
that would have been quite enough for her without any other 
inducement. Moreover, she knew that her presence cheered 
and encouraged the soldiers. " The Queen has been blamed/' 
says Von Colin, " because on that fearful day (Jena) the death 
hour of the Prussian State, she was still in the midst of the 
army. This is too hard 1 This illustrious lady had never 
employed herself with political affairs, till Alexander acquainted 
her with the perils which threatened her house and the State ; 
whether this danger were real or imaginary is now matter of 
indifference; the Queen was not able to cast a very deep 
* See Alison's "History of Europe." 


glance into state affairs. Enough,, this idea stirred up all 
her womanly feelings; she saw her husband the King, her 
children, the succession, all that was dear and precious to her, 
in danger, she sacrificed everything then to dare this danger, 
and to share it with her husband. For this reason did the 
gentle Louisa betake herself to the army; therefore, on the 
13th of October, on foot in the streets of Weimar, did she show 
herself to the troops, enlivening by her courage, and exalting 
by her presence, all that there was to enliven and encourage. 
It was she who thus contributed to inspire her husband with that 
courage which showed him so heroic a soldier in the conflict." 

Again, an author personally so much opposed to Von Colin, 
that he thought it necessary to furnish " Loscheimer " * to 
quench his " Neue Feuerbrande,"f writes : " The Queen of 
Prussia followed her husband like a good wife, who was anxious 
with regard to his and her children's fate. She knew that she 
was beloved, and she showed herself to the soldiers on all occa- 
sions, and was received as their good genius." No wonder, 
then, that Napoleon, knowing this, should have reproached the 
Queen of Prussia, even with the fact, that she and her children 
took leave of the troops before their departure, like the royal 
lady and " mother " of our own land, when she received many 
a soldier's blessing as she bade her army " God speed \" before 
its departure to a foreign land, not long ago. 

After remaining some time at Charlottenburg, the Queen ac- 
companied her husband, in the middle of September, to Naum- 
burg, on the Saale. A moment's glance is here necessary at 
the position of the Prussian army. The King, with that 
unfortunate tendency to repose a misplaced confidence in others, 
of which he so often gave instances, in no way undeceived by 
the campaign of 1792, although he had himself been a witness 
of the mismanagement of the Duke of Brunswick, committed 
his army to that general's command. Brunswick "might 
have had talent once, but since the manifesto of 1792, he had 

* Fire-buckets. f New Fire-brands. 

LOUISA. 367 

ceased to be that for which he had been taken. Now he was a 
sickly old man, constantly vacillating between wollen and nicht- 
wollen ; who could talk of a disposition, but not carry it out j 
the new art of war, and the rapidity of the execution of modern 
strategy, were wholly strange to him, those who commanded 
under him neither had, nor could have, any respect for him." * 
Frau von Voss was not far off the truth when, as he one day 
complained to her of his military misfortunes, she said, as is 
reported, " Ah ! yes ; but we two old women cannot mend the 
matter by our gossip now ! " But old women are not well 
qualified for the conduct of a campaign, therefore the ma- 
no3uvres of the Prussian army presented the most lamentable 
scene of vacillation, confusion and incapability, where, besides 
the one great want of an efficient commander, there was a fear- 
ful list of other wants ; " certain intelligence of the movements 
of the enemy was wanting a numerous reserve was wanting; 
.... An efficient commissariat was wanting an accurate 

knowledge of the ground was wanting Plan there 

was none ; it seemed as if the army had been blown together 
by the wind without aim or destination, but posted by chance 
upon the Saale, so that Napoleon could with all convenience 
march straight upon Berlin through the space between the 
Saale and the Elbe ; and in order that he might not find the 
slightest obstacle in the way, the so-called army of reserve was 
posted, not on the right bank of the Elbe, but at Magdeburg ! " * 
Added to all this, the army, which was in fact " not a connected 
army at all, but only several divisions," was to be opposed, not 
to a similarly-constituted enemy when, as generally happens 
in such cases, the mutual mistakes furnish mutual teaching, 
and the art of war is learned by each party, by the time of the 
conclusion of peace but to Napoleon Buonaparte and his 
veteran troops : the Prussian army, moreover, was, partly from 
principle,f but chiefly from neglect, wholly destitute of spies, 

* ' ' Vertraute Briefe." 

+ " Lb'scheimer." The King objected to the system of obtaining information by 


whilst Napoleon knew almost every word that passed in the 
Prussian councils-of-war.* It may be imagined, under these 
circumstances, with what foreboding the thinking part of the 
Prussian army began to look upon the issue of the campaign. 
The King was depressed and uneasy ; he could not fail to see 
that things were going fearfully wrong, f but he could not see 
how to right them. The Queen shared his anxiety to the fullest 
extent, although, says Vehse, " she was the most collected 
person in the camp." Gentz, who visited the camp at Naum- 
burg (on 3rd Oct.), had an interview with her there; she 
wished to ask his opinion of the probable results of the cam- 
paign. Depressed by all he had heard and seen, Gentz looked 
forward to the approaching audience with no very pleasurable 
anticipation, feeling that he must either be a prophet of evil or 
disguise the truth. " But/' says he, " my foreboding deceived 
me, for instead of increasing my trouble it comforted me and 
relieved me, and had not my confidence already vanished too far 
into the distance I should have recovered it on this occasion. For 
a year I had heard constant praises of this Princess ; I was, 
therefore, prepared to find her something quite different from 
that which in my earlier conceptions I had pictured to myself; 
but the noble and majestic qualities which she developed every 
moment during a conversation of three-quarters of an hour, I 
had not expected. She reasoned with precision, connection, 
and energy, at the same time displaying a prudence which I 
should have found admirable in a man ; and yet in all she said, 
she manifested such deep feeling, that one could not for a mo- 
ment forget that it was a woman's mind to which one paid the 

this means ; but when Prince Hohenlohe applied to Brunswick for the means of 
paying for such intelligence, his application was never even answered. 

* Napoleon was said to have been supplied with the minutest details of all that 
passed in the Prussian camp by means of the people of Lombard and Lucchesini, 
and also through the Duke of Brunswick's mistress, a Frenchwoman. 

*t* "Things cannot go well," said he, "for all is in indescribable confusion. The 
generals would not take my opinion if I offered it, I do not understand military 
affairs sufficiently well. I hope I may be wrong. " " Luise Koniyin von 

LOUISA. 369 

tribute of admiration. There was not a word which had 
not its purpose, not a single reflection, or expression of feel- 
ing which was not in strict unison with the general subjects 
of discussion; so that the result was a combination of dig- 
nity, benevolence and elegance, such as I had never before 
met with, nor imagined. Her first question was, what I thought 
of the war ; ( I do not ask to gather courage/ said she ; 
' thank God, that I do not need. I know, also, that if you 
have an unfavourable opinion, you certainly will not tell me. 
But I should like to know on what those, who are in a po- 
sition to judge of the posture of affairs, found their judgment, 
in order to see whether their reasons and mine coincide/ I 
brought forward all that occurred to me on the fair side of the 
question ; I laid especial emphasis on the state of public 
opinion, the favourable dispositions of contemporary Powers, 
and on the zealous wishes in which all parties in Germany 
emulated each other, that Prussia's undertaking should be 
crowned with success. She spoke of her apprehensions as to 
the light in which public opinion, especially that of other 
countries, would view this expedition, as she well knew that 
the general disposition was not favourable to Prussia; yet, for 
some weeks latterly, she had heard reports which had given her 
more confidence in this respect. ( You know the past better 
than I ; is not this a moment in which it should be forgotten ?' 
said she, in reference to this subject. She showed herself to be 
fully acquainted with the details of the war in 1805, and spoke of 
the misfortunes of Austria with deep feeling, several times I saw 
her eyes fill with tears ; she related with touching simplicity, 
that on the day when she heard of the disasters of the Austrian 
army, her son (Frederic William IV., then crown Prince) had for 
the first time worn his uniform, and she had said to him, ' I 
hope that, on the day when you wear this dress in battle, your 
first thought will be to avenge your unhappy brethren/ There 
was a tenderness in her manner of speaking of the Emperor 
arid Empress, such as she might have wished others to use in 

B B 


speaking of the King and herself under similar circumstances. 
She mentioned several of the generals, Prince Hohenlohe, 
Prince Louis, Schmettau, Riichel, Bliicher, but the name of 
Brunswick never once passed her lips. She asked me if I had 
seen an article in the ' Publicist/ which made an unworthy 
comment upon her political conduct ; ' God knows I have never 
been asked for counsel upon public affairs, and have never 
desired it. If I had been asked, I confess it freely, I should 
have given my voice for war; for I believe it was necessary. 
Our position had become so critical, that we were obliged, at 
all risks, to disentangle ourselves, and it was pressingly neces- 
sary to put an end to the ill- will and suspicion which were har- 
boured against us. We were called upon by a principle of honour, 
and consequently of duty, so far as I understand it, to take this 
course/ With regard to the prejudice which she was accused 
of harbouring against the Russians, she said it was the most 
absurd of accusations, for, as regarded his zeal and devotion in 
the cause, and his personal virtues, she always had, and always 
should render full justice to the Emperor Alexander : yet, far 
from regarding Russia as the principal instrument in the 
liberation of Europe, she looked upon its assistance only as a 
last resource, and she was firmly convinced that the main 
source of safety was alone to be found in the strict union of 
all those who prided themselves on bearing the German name. 
There was great division of opinion upon the subject of the 
Queen's continued presence in the camp, she was herself 
naturally averse to leave her husband, unless there was an 
absolute necessity for the step; Lombard expressed his disap- 
probation of her remaining in the harshest terms, whilst on the 
other side, men of equal discernment and less doubtful 
integrity, attached the utmost importance to the prolongation 
of her stay. General Kalkreuth, amongst others, entreated 
Gentz, if he could find an occasion to do so, to protest against 
her departure. ' I know what I ask/ said he, ' her presence 
is of the greatest importance.' " Gentz continues, " I could 

LOUISA. 371 

not give an opinion, I could only say, that the Queen's conduct 
during her residence at the camp, had been free from the 
slightest reproach, and had displayed a dignity, discretion, and 
prudence, such as ought to distinguish a Princess of her rank, 
and which are very rarely to be met with in such circumstances 
as those under which she was placed. I thought, that when 
viewed from all points, and disconnected from the danger which 
she incurred by remaining, which was as nothing in her 
eyes, that the question decided itself for her remain- 
ing. Seizing a favourable opportunity therefore, I said, 
'I have remarked that the question is much mooted how 
to prolong your Majesty's stay in Dresden* for a few 
days/ ' I acknowledge/ she replied, ' that under other 
circumstances, a longer stay in Dresden would have occa- 
sioned me much pleasure, but now I should have no enjoyment 
in it; my mind is too much occupied with serious reflections, 
besides I do not know what my position might become ; but in 
this, as in all other things, I submit myself wholly to the 
King's will. I dread also the alarming reports with which one 
is constantly harassed when remote from the scene of action, 
and you know how active ill-will already is/ She had said the 
day before to Goertv, ' Is it possible that they wish to banish 
me to Berlin ? ' She said that so far as depended upon her- 
self, she would remain/' On the termination of the audience 
Louisa dismissed Gentz with a few kind words, " the sweetness 
of which," said he, " 1 shall never^ forget." This account from 
the pen of a statesman, and a man of discernment like Gentz, 
is all sufficient to prove that it was no mere uxoriousness on the 
part of Frederic William, which had induced him, weakly, to 
bring his wife to camp, only to prove an additional source of 
anxiety on the field of battle, and an encumbrance in case of 
retreat. On the contrary, he needed her sustaining presence 
to quicken his own hope and faith, and to inspire his troops 
with fresh courage and enthusiasm. 

* She would have to pass Dresden on quitting the army. 

B B 2 


The affair of Saalfeld, which took place October 10, and 
which cost the life of the gallant Prince Louis, was the first 
severe disaster experienced by the Prussians. With the un- 
happy fatality which seems everywhere to have posted the 
wrong men in the wrong places throughout this campaign, this 
fiery young Prince had been appointed to the command of the 
vanguard of the left wing under Prince Hohenlohe, with posi- 
tive orders not to engage the enemy; but, carried away by his 
impetuous bravery, he neglected the order, and, with the 6000 
men under his command, attacked a body of 30,000 French. 
Despite the overwhelming superiority of the enemy, the contest 
lasted for five hours, and was carried on with desperate valour. 
The Prince, as a last chance of retrieving the day, made an 
impetuous charge at the head of his cavalry ; but, outflanked 
and enveloped by the enemy, they fell into disorder, and the 
rout became general. The manner in which the gallant young 
Prince met his death is not exactly known. The most pro- 
bable account seems to be, that finding himself alone, he put 
his horse at a high embankment, intending to gain the chaussee 
below ; but the animal either receiving a shot, or catching its 
foot in the leap, he was dismounted. He then proceeded on foot ; 
on encountering two of the enemy, one of them on horseback, 
they bade him surrender ; he refused to do so, and was slain, 
fighting desperately against this odds. All that is certain on 
the subject, however, is, that his body was found by some pea- 
sants, gashed by thirteen wounds. Thus did Prince Louis 
keep the oath which he, Ruchel and Bliicher had taken the 
day before going to their posts (as commanders of the van- 
guards of the three bodies into which the Prussian army was 
divided). " We pledged our simple, manly words," says he, 
" to set our lives upon the struggle where glory and honour 
await us ; and, should political freedom and liberality of senti- 
ment be annihilated by defeat, not to survive their ruin." 
And thus was lost to Prussia one of the rarest combinations of 
talent, valour, and personal advantages which she probably ever 

LOUISA. 373 

possessed amongst the sons of her royal house ; although, alas ! 
these endowments were altogether perverted and wasted, in 
point of actual practical utility. 

A favourite with Nature and Fortune, who had combined to 
bestow upon him their choicest gifts of mind, body and position, 
this young man seemed to be the most enviable of mankind ; 
yet this very prodigality of gifts, which placed him in the lap 
of luxury and rank, was the cause of his undoing ; there was 
no scope for him in Prussia, no space to spread his wings and 
soar. Brilliant in talent, noble and generous in disposition, 
beautiful as a young god, life was too easy for him ; it presented 
no difficulties, and his genius required something upon which to 
wreak itself. The same thing applied to learning, it presented 
no obstacles to his daring intellect ; it was the same with all his 
pursuits, they offered nothing to provoke his energy; music, 
though he loved it with a passion, formed no exception ; his 
auditors would sit entranced for hours to listen to his wild extem- 
pore rhapsodies upon the piano, but it was no serious study with 
him. With his fine person and stately bearing, his fair, curly 
hair and bold, frank blue eyes, backed by an unrivalled power 
of fascination, what female heart could withstand him ? his 
loves were as manifold, vivid and brief, as the roses of summer ! 
He was an idol with the soldiers, on account of his daring courage 
and heroic generosity,"* as well as his frankness and soldierly 

* At the end of the campaign of 1792, having had nothing to stay his appetite 
for fighting, in the Prussian army, he volunteered into that of the Austrians ; here 
one day, during a sharp engagement, a retreat was ordered. One of the Austrian 
soldiers, who had been wounded, called to his comrades to carry him with them, 
out of the road of the advancing enemy. ' ' Will none of you save the poor 
fellow?" cried Prince Louis. "Then I will go back for him myself;" and, 
turning back into the midst of the hail of French bullets, he laid the man 
tenderly upon his shoulder, and carried him back to his troop. The Prince 
was almost worshipped by the common soldiers after this brave deed. His 
kindness also to his attendants fettered them to him completely. One winter's 
day, noticing his valet, pale and shivering behind him in his sledge, ' ' How is it 
that you have no great coat?" said he. "There was no time to get one before 
starting," replied the man. The Prince hastily took off his fur mantle, and gave 


bearing ; he had great military talent,* and considerable politi- 
cal penetration . Had he only ascended the throne in 1796, 
instead of Frederic William, what a different destiny would 
in all probability have awaited Prussia, from that which 
overtook her on the field of Jena ! As it was, Prince Louis 
was so much splendid material utterly thrown away. He had 
hoped that when war was necessary evidently a measure of 
the merest prudence an opening would have been made for 
him to carve a way to fame upon the battle-field ; but shut 
out, by the wretched policy of the Prussian ministry, from this 
career, walled up on all sides, within the limited sphere of an 
apanaged prince, he stifled for want of air : he could but chafe 
and fret within his narrow prison; he sought violent bodily 
exertion as a safety-valve for the wild energy of his spirit ; he 
delighted in taming ungovernable steeds that no one else dared 
mount ; here at least was something to struggle with and quell; 
often did the lonely rocks and forest solitudes witness the fierce, 
wild delight of the contest between the two strong, beautiful 
creatures ; the foaming, maddening beast, straining each start- 
ing sinew below, the iron-willed man, with the brow of stern, 
triumphant power above : for the wildest and loneliest districts 
in the country were the favourite scenes of his rough rides and 
dangerous hunting-excursions. He plunged headlong into the 
wildest, maddest dissipation, not because he cared for it, but he 
must have something to do. Stein, who knew and loved him 
well, and who felt what a great work ought to be in store for 
such a rich nature as this, wrote tender paternal letters of 
faithful reproof and exhortation to him, to be that which God 

it to the man, saying, " Seest thou, I have still an overcoat!" See "Los- 

* He had rooms fitted up as a military school in his house. One day the pro- 
fessor demanded leave of absence at the hour of the lesson. The Prince gave the 
required permission, sent away his horse, and himself gave the lesson, demon- 
strating every point of the subject under discussion with the utmost lucidity, 
and astonishing his listeners with his power of communicating instruction in the 
most vivid and impressive manner. See u L6scheimer." 

LOUISA. 375 

had given him the power to be. Then came the long-desired 
opening/ the moment of action, and in that very gateway of 
a career of glory, even if of misfortune,* Prince Louis lay a 
corpse. So darkly hid in the deep waters are the footsteps of 

The news of this disaster reached the camp the next day (Oct. 
11), and caused a universal depression, for Prince Louis had 
been a favourite with all ; and although he and the King could 
not understand or sympathize with each other, still they had 
entertained much mutual esteem ; and Frederic William's nature 
was too affectionate not to feel his cousin's death severely. The 
Queen, too, appreciated his talents, and regarded him with sin- 
cere friendship j yet she was the only person who, " when every 
one else gave way to despondency, had the courage to repress 
her grief,"f and afford to others the consolation and hope, which 
she herself did not feel on this occasion. 

The Prussian army was now on the eve of an engagement ; 
I draw upon the same perspicuous writer who has already fur- 
nished me with so many particulars of the then existing state of 
affairs, J for a rapid glance at the position of the respective armies 
before the day of Jena and Auerstadt. During the commence- 
ment of October the Prussian commander-in -chief had occupied 
his time in holding councils of war of most diverse tendency, none 
of the plans proposed in which were put into execution : at last 
" General Tauentzien, with a weak division, moved, in the direc- 
tion of the enemy, towards the right bank of the Saale, and 
Prince Louis was posted with the advance guard at Saalfeld. 
The magazines in Naumburg, Merseburg, and Halle, were left 
unprotected on the right bank of the river, while the main army 

* Prince Louis himself augured ill of the chances of success in the contest, 
begun so much too late, and therefore so much too early. His mother, like the 
greater part of the Court, looked upon success as certain. "Trust me," said he, 
" you will lire to leave Berlin some day without beat of drum." 

f* "Loscheiiner iiber den Neuon Feuerbranden, " &c. 

Von Colin. 


lay upon the left. The French were thus in a position to take 
possession of the Prussian basis of operations, which they did 
not fail to do. They occupied the right bank as far as Naum- 
burg, and the defiles by Kosen, on the 13th ; and therefore the 
Prussian army, defeated without a blow, ought not to have 
thought of a battle. On the 14th Riichel was posted at Wei- 
mar, Hohenlohe between Jena and Vierzehn Heiligen, and the 
main body (under Brunswick) at Auerstadt." ..." The army 
was an aimless multitude, whose generals had no men, whose 
soldiers no forage and no powder, and whose commander-in- 
chief did not know whether he was asleep or awake." There 
could not be much doubt as to the issue of the double battle of 
Jena and Auerstadt or Hassenhausen. It was in vain that the 
King was ever to be found where the danger was the greatest ; "* 
that " he led his troops into the thickest of the fire as if he 
sought to die the death for the Father-land ; " f the defeat was 
entire : and Prussia was annihilated. 

Knowing that the army was on the brink of a battle, the re- 
sult of which must be doubtful, the King, at length, gave orders 
for the Queen to return to Berlin. She therefore prepared to 
leave head-quarters at Weimar on the morning of the 14th of 
October,J but all the horses were in demand in the field, and 
none could be obtained for the Queen's carriage; and she had to 
wait for some time whilst General Riichel, her enthusiastic 
though venerable admirer, and constant friend, had his own 
beasts harnessed to her carriage. The distant thunder of the 
cannon of Jena accompanied her departure, and though she did 
not know what that sound portended, yet it was /with a heart 
oppressed by the parting with her husband on the eve of a 
doubtful engagement, and weighed down by a heavy foreboding 
of evil, that she left Weimar that morning ; nevertheless, as her 

* " Intelligenz Blatt zu den Neuen Neuerbrande." 
f " Vertraute Brief e." 

$ The battle of Jena was fought on the anniversary of the defeat of Hoch- 

LOUSIA. 377 

carriage passed some of the troops on their march, she called to 
them with her own cheerful smile and sweet voice, " Children, 
fight like Prussians ! " * 

At the gates of the capital, the speedy messenger of evil tidings 
overtook Louisa, with directions that she should flee instantly 
to Stettin : scarcely waiting for the necessary packages to be 
prepared, she immediately set off with her children, for that 
place. Here she encountered the traitor Lombard, who was 
himself escaping from the popular fury which threatened his 
life. Her finer instinct had never allowed her to trust this 
man, even when the King had been wholly guided by his coun- 
sels ; now, feeling that the chief agent of her country's ruin 
was before her, she for once acted upon her independent 
authority, and ordered his instant arrest.f 

Hence she continued her flight towards Kiistrin, stopping in 
order to change horses at Barwalde ; but the inhabitants actually 
refused to furnish them to the fugitive Queen. This insolence 
and unkindness on the part of Prussian subjects cut her to the 
heart ; it was supposed that these people had been bribed by 
the French, who derived their intelligence of her movements 
from Lombard, and who were known to have made inquiry 
respecting her route in the neighbourhood. Obliged, therefore, 

* "Loscheimer." 

t It has been asserted that this arrest of Lombard was the consequence of an 
order from the King, given to protect him from the mob (who even here endea- 
voured to tear him from the hands of the soldiers). This idea arose from the fac 
of his being immediately afterwards set at liberty. It was said that the Cabinet 
order for his release ran, "that he having been arrested by the order of my wife 
to save him from the unjust violence of the mob," &c. ; but there seems little reason 
to doubt that the order was given by the Queen on her own authority, and that 
such an arrest being illegal, he was set at liberty by the King when he heard 
of it. However that might have been, no doubt existed of Lombard's treachery, 
nor of that of his colleagues, Haugwitz and Lucchesini. Lombard was even said to 
have delayed for twelve days the despatches which Kriisemark was commissioned 
to take to St. Petersburg, to inform Alexander of the outbreak of the war. 
(" Vertraute Briefe.") Niebuhr wrote at the time, "A light begins to break upon 
us from the frightful chaos, and a view is developing itself, which one must sum- 
mon one's whole strength to gaze upon : as yet Lombard only is imprisoned, but 
the treachery certainly was not confined to him." See "Luise Kb'n. Preuss." 


to proceed with her already-exhausted horses, Louisa at length 
arrived at Kiistrin, where she was joined by her husband. 
Kiistrin being an important post on account of its position, the 
King paused here to give orders that it should be placed in a 
posture of defence, such as might resist at least a sudden attack, 
and might even, if vigorously defended, hold out for some time. 
The Queen went with him on to the walls, whilst he was ex- 
amining into the available means of resistance. " It was sad," 
say the " Vertraute Briefe," " to see her grief-bowed head, as, 
wrapped in a travelling-mantle, she walked up and down on the 
walls with the King." Thence the royal fugitives started on 
the 26th for Konigsberg, which, at least, would afford them a 
refuge as long as the King was master of any portion of 
Prussian ground. But thither also one messenger of misfor- 
tune and disgrace fast followed another. Even before the King 
and Queen left Kiistrin, not only were Leipzig and Wittenberg, 
but Berlin itself, in the enemy's hands. On the 25th Benk- 
endorf surrendered Spandau without firing a shot ; Hohenlohe 
capitulated at Prenzlau on the 28th. Stettin, whose officers 
had sent to the King to know " what they were to do if sum- 
moned to capitulate ? " surrendered the next day, as might have 
been expected, at the summons of a body of light cavalry ! so 
that Napoleon wrote to Murat, " If your hussars take fortresses, 
I may as well disband my engineer corps, and melt my heavy 
artillery ! " Ingersleben, the commandant of Kiistrin, who had 
pledged his word to the King to stand by the place to the last 
with a force of from three to four thousand men, and pro- 
visions, that might have held out for months, surrendered at 
the summons of from three to four hundred French soldiers ! 
Even Bliicher surrendered on the 7th Nov. ; and Magdeburg 
itself, Prussia's strongest fortress, the sorest loss of all, was 
given up by Kleist on the 8th. During the winter the Silesian 
fortresses submitted in the same manner, and there was indeed 
no longer a King of Prussia. Never since Prussia had been a 
kingdom, had her own children inflicted upon her, disgrace such 

LOUISA. 379 

as that of the conduct of Knobelsdorf, Ingersleben, and Ben- 
kendorf, and some of the other commandants of fortresses. 
Thus did the first storm of adversity shake down from the 
branches that unwholesome fruit, the produce of the years of 
peace and luxury, of which Mirabeau had said that it was 
" rotten before it was ripe." * 

Thus day by day, almost, bringing news of fresh disaster, the 
country in the hands of the enemy, the resources entirely ex- 
hausted, dejection and despondency sitting upon every coun- 
tenance that met their gaze, the King and Queen passed those 
first days at Konigsberg. The King would have utterly sunk 
under his misfortunes, had it not been for his wife, but her 
fortitude and courage helped to support him under every 
calamity. Whilst all other counsellors talked of submission to 
any terms the conqueror might choose to dictate, she alone said, 
gently, but firmly, "Resistance is our only chance." When 
Napoleon offered a suspension of arms, on condition that the 
whole of the left bank of the Weichsel should be delivered to 
him, whilst he offered no pledge for its restoration, it was she 
who, the most strongly, urged that the proposal should be re- 
jected; misfortune to her was endurable, but not disgrace. 
Decided and firm now, as she had been docile and yielding in 
the days of their young wedded love, she was the slender but 
firm support which held up her husband's fainting faith and 
hope, and raised him nearer to the heaven to which she be- 
longed. Von Schladen had an interview with her on the 9th 
of November ; he describes her face, at this time, as bearing 
the impress of suffering. She spoke very earnestly upon the 
state of affairs, but still expressed her firm conviction that 
te only firm and steady perseverance in resistance can save us." 
Even hither, in the midst of her misfortunes, the odious calum- 

* Of all the officers who so scandalously delivered up the fortresses committed 
to their charge, into the enemy's hands, only Ingersleben was condemned to death, 
and on him the sentence was not executed. The rest were broken only, so great 
was the clemency of Frederic William. 


nies with which Napoleon constantly endeavoured to disfigure 
the character of Louisa, pursued her ; he knew that the adoration 
with which she was regarded, on account of the beautiful purity 
of her character, and the consequent devotion of the people to 
her cause, would prove the principal obstacles which he should 
have to encounter, in maintaining a perfect mastery over Prussia ; 
this purity therefore he assailed by the most shameless calum- 
nies. Frau von Berg says, " a daily paper published at Berlin 
(the Telegraph), under Napoleon's eye, was filled with abuse 
and reviling of all (the King's party), especially of the Queen. 
Hitherto men had regarded her as a symbol of the beautiful on 
earth, and dared to pass no judgment on her ; they had revered 
her from afar now the fair statue of her stainless reputation 
was to be brought down from the sanctuary and exposed to the 
gaze of the curious multitude/' But even that ordeal could 
discover no alloy in the pure gold of Louisa's honour, and 
twisted, tortured, and misrepresented, as facts might be, no 
credible allegation could be brought against it. The charges 
laid against her, however, in the ears of her own people, were 
some of the bitterest drops in the cup that was presented to 
her lips. The papers containing them were foolishly allowed 
to meet her eyes. Von Schladen says, that during the conver- 
sation mentioned above, she spoke with deep pain of the calum- 
nies with which Napoleon assailed her. On the 14th she was 
terribly excited at the contents of one of these journals. "Is 
it not enough," said she, with the tears streaming from her eyes, 
" that he should rob the King of his crow r n ? must the honour 
of his wife also be sacrificed, because the Emperor is base 
enough to circulate the vilest lies about me ?" Fate, too, 
seemed to mock the unfortunate pair in the midst of their 
distresses, for in the beginning of December, the couriers who 
brought exaggerated intelligence of victories gained by the 
Russians at Pultusk and Golymin, were followed in a few days 
by those, who announced, that the defeat of the Prussians at 
Soldau had left Ney and Bernadotte at liberty to march on to 

LOUISA. 381 

Konigsberg. The Queen had been ill for some time, of low 
fever, brought on by anxiety; for a fortnight she had been in 
great danger, but was slowly recovering, when this intelligence 
arrived; it was necessary to remove her instantly to Memel. 
On a cold, dark, damp winter's day therefore, lying supported 
on pillows, and wrapped up in shawls and plumaux, in the car- 
riage, the unfortunate Louisa was obliged to seek elsewhere 
the shelter which Konigsberg could no longer afford. She 
was conveyed along the Strand road to Memel, the only town 
which her husband could now call his own. No wonder that 
that significant entry was made in her diary about this time. 

" Wer nie sein Brod mit Thranen ass, 
Wer nie die kummervolle Nachte 
Auf seinem Bette, weinend sass, 
Der kennt ihr nicht, ikr himmlisch'n Machte." * 

111 as she was, and great as was the fatigue caused by the 
journey, yet no word of impatience crossed Louisa's lips ; 
patient and thankful, with still a smile and a kind word for her 
attendants, she submitted with humble, unquestioning resigna- 
tion to the will of Him, who she knew, " orders all things 
well." The journey, contrary to all expectation, did her good, 
and she began fast to recover strength as the spring ad- 

The successes, doubtful as they were, gained by the Prussians 
at Pultusk and Golymin, had contributed, in some degree, to 
rouse the courage of the shattered remains of the Prussian 
army ; those officers who were not prisoners in the hands of 
the French, gathered round the King, and a few small bodies 
of troops gradually assembled; the share which this little 
Prussian auxiliary took in the battle of Eylau, helped to re- 
animate the spirits of the nation still more; Hardenberg also 
had rejoined the King in Memel, and that in itself afforded 

* " Who ne'er with tears hath eaten bread, 

Who never pass'd night's mournful hours, 
In sitting, weeping on his bed, 

He knows ye not, ye heavenly powers." Goethe. 


ground for hope, since his sound counsels would do what could 
be done, to retrieve the effects of those of his predecessors. 
Less unfavourable reports, too, arrived from Berlin, that instead 
of basely crouching to flatter the conqueror, as had been 
reported, the inhabitants were merely silent and submissive, 
from constraint ; so that the aspect of affairs was not altogether 
so desperate as it had seemed a short time back. Action, too, 
is always a remedy against despondency; when, therefore, 
Frederic William and the Emperor Alexander met to form a 
new alliance, and to plan the operations for the campaign of 
1807, a brighter glow seemed for a moment to tinge the face 
of Prussian affairs. Napoleon, too, when he heard of the 
meeting of the two monarch s, sent Bertrand to make propo- 
sitions of peace to Frederic William, and if he would have 
deserted his ally, he might have obtained it on favourable 
terms ; but he was by far too honourable to listen to separate 
terms of accommodation, therefore he and the Emperor Alex- 
ander concluded the treaty of Bartenstein. Ominously enough, 
as Forster remarks, that meeting, when Alexander protested so 
fervently to Frederic William, " Neither of us will fall alone 
we stand or we fall together" took place on " All Fools' Day," 
April 1, 1807, but the alliance furnished comfort and hope at 
the time, and the issue of the campaign could not be foreseen.* 

* How little experience had been gained by either monarch from the past, may 
be judged from the fact, that although the allied armies were suffering from the 
want of the commonest necessaries of life, during their presence in the encamp- 
ment, neither Alexander nor Frederic William had the slightest idea of the 
existence of even a scarcity of provisions. When they together inspected the 
troops, and to Frederic William's question, "Kinder, habt ihr alles !" the loud re- 
ply of ' ' Hunger ! " from all the men was taken by both sovereigns for the ' ' Hurrah," 
of perfect satisfaction, and they rode off the ground perfectly satisfied with the 
state of their army ! Some of the men making sport of their misfortunes, had 
set up a board of warning to trespassers, which they had found, with the 
notice in large letters, "Hier wird Elend gehegt," in front of their huts. I 
translate the pun for the sake of those who do not understand German. Elend is 
the German name of the Elk, it also means misery, therefore the inscription which, 
where it originally stood, meant " Elk preserved here," in its new position read, 
" misery harboured here." See Forster, " Sech's Jahre." 

LOUISA. 383 

Whilst her husband was occupied in the field, the Queen, 
who had returned to Konigsberg, was employing herself in the 
education of her children, whom she now made, more than ever, 
her own charge. The crown Prince was at this time twelve 
years of age ; his mind was one of great promise, and already 
he could comprehend the misfortunes of his parents arid his 
country. It had always been his mother's earnest endeavour to 
implant in his mind such sentiments as might befit the heir to 
the throne of her beloved country. Now also she sought to 
call up in his young heart an echo to the fervent patriotism that 
animated her own. "You see me weep," said she to him after 
the battle of Jena ; " I weep for the downfall of my house and 
the loss of its glory. Recall these unhappy hours to your 
memory when I am no more, and weep for me then, such tears 
as I weep now over the ruin of my country ; but do not satisfy 
yourself with tears act develope your strength ! Perhaps 
you may be destined to free your people from the shame with 
which it is overwhelmed. Do not let yourself be carried away 
by the degeneracy of the age ; be a man ! court the fame of a 
general and a hero. If you cannot raise your fallen country 
by your efforts, then seek death as Prince Louis has done ! " 

Whilst at Konigsberg she had become acquainted with 
several men of literary talent. One of her favourite acquaint- 
ances was Scheffner, still juvenile in his old age, who, when a 
young man, had volunteered into Frederic II.'s army, instead 
of remaining at his desk; and who, on afterwards applying for 
a pension, had been wounded by that monarch's reply, that 
" he had so many brave officers who were unpensioned, that he 
could not pension a mere Kriegsrath" 

Scheffner was admitted on the most friendly terms to the 
Queen's society at the house of her sister Frederica (now Prin- 
cess of Solms). He describes both the sisters; the Princess 
of Solms as possessing a very charming person, a very fasci- 
nating manner, and a spice of coquetry, aided by the tones of a 


very musical voice. His conversation with her ranged, he says, 
from the " cedar to the hyssop" of State affairs. Of the Queen 
he speaks, like all who described her, in the more subdued tone 
of reverence " Eyes of a franker, purer expression ; a more 
entire, almost child-like ingenuousness, have I never seen in 
any female face ; yet was she still more lovely in mind than 
body." After the friendly reception which she had accorded 
him, he felt at liberty to speak without reserve upon several 
subjects on which her conduct had been called in question ; 
but her answers were so simply straightforward, that no ves- 
tige of doubt could rest upon the point, in the mind of any 
unprejudiced person. The many pleasant hours of reading or 
conversation passed with this lively and kindly old man were a 
great solace to the Queen. These conversations seem to have 
taken as wide a range as those with the Princess of Solms, 
though not on the same topics, for they turned upon " Court 
life," on " Eternal life," on " Education," and the differences 
between " princely and private education," on the " Virtue of 
hospitality," on the "Necessity of court etiquette," &c. &c.; 
but if the subject of politics was touched upon, she imme- 
diately broke off from it, and started some other topic. <e But 
on all these themes," says Scheffner, " that which was beau- 
tiful and good made the strongest impression upon her/' With 
Scheffner she read Siivern's " Lectures on History," upon 
which she made her own annotations, and forwarded them 
to him for his corrections, and his opinion on the various sub- 
jects which had struck her. In one of her letters she entreats 
him, when he visits her, to " come in boots, not in thin silk 
stockings. You have no compassion on old age, but I love it; 
therefore I must contribute all that I can to keep you in health." 
In this note she begs him to look out the lecture in question, 
and, "for the love of her," to put the dates to the periods 
of the rise, prime, and decline of the Greek and Eoman Powers, 
and, above all, to date the rise of " beloved Germany." But 

LOUISA. 385 

the subject of the crown Prince's education was that which was 
most frequently discussed by his anxious mother and her old 
friend, that subject being one of so much importance not only 
to her darling son, but also to the nation.* 

With Bishop Borrowsky also, whose piety was an aid to her 
own, the Queen held frequent intercourse at Konigsberg. Once 
on his visiting her, she rose at his entrance, saying, with that 
poetical turn of expression which so often characterized her 
diction when she spoke of any subject that excited her higher 
feelings, and in accordance with which her sweet voice always 
modulated itself so singularly, "I have been reading that 
precious 126th Psalm, on which we spoke together when you 
were last here. Amidst all the sorrow it expresses, the con- 
quering hope rises like the morning dawn, and through the 
storm of misfortune one hears the glad song of the victor. 
There is in it a spirit of sadness, and yet of triumph; of resig- 
nation, yet of glad confidence ; it is a Hallelujah in tears" There 
were dark hours in that " Passions-Zeit" (the years between 
1806 and 1809), says this confidential friend, when the King 
was overwhelmed and hopeless and the Queen in tears, and 
when from her trembling lips broke the words " My God, my 
God, why hast thou forsaken me ? " but such moments passed 
away in the once more unclouded brightness of the inward light 
of faith, and the King, though conquered, and, as it were, a 
prisoner in that last poor remnant of his dominions, still happy 
in his domestic ties, surrounded by that atmosphere of love in 
which Louisa ever moved, was quiet but cheerful, his port as 
erect, and his step as free as when he walked in Berlin, the 
monarch of Prussia. Eylert was right when he applied to 
Louisa that description of a wife which is contained in the last 
chapter of Proverbs, she did t( do him good and not evil all the 

* Scheffner was ill on the Queen's return to Berlin, so that she could not see 
him; she sent him kind messages, however, by von Schrotter, who writes, "I am 
to greet you from one of the fairest women of womankind, from one who is 
neither more nor less than the queen of women the Queen herself." 

C C 


days of her life j " and in return, " his heart trusted in her, so 
that he had no need of spoil."* 

Von Colin writes from Konigsberg, 17th of May, 1807, 
"The Queen leads a most retired life; the exercise of benevo- 
lence and humanity fills up her days. She seeks, so far as her 
sex permits, to alleviate the miseries occasioned by war. She 
provides with incessant efforts, and with considerable contribu- 
tions, for the wounded and the needy. She visits no theatres, 
gives no concerts nor balls ; but every one who, like myself, has 
the pleasure of approaching her, must acknowledge that she, or 
else no woman upon earth, realises the high ideal of fairest 
womanhood. Not striking, but softly magical, is the impression 
which she makes on all, of all ranks, foreigners and country- 
men. The calm, the resignation, with which she bears her 
misfortunes deeply touches the heart ; and it must, indeed, be 
the extreme of vileness which, having beheld her mild, heavenly 
look, can revile this model of her sex. Terrible is always the 
power of misfortune ; still more terrible when it strikes a sove- 
reign ; but most so when it strikes one who not only is t but 
deserves to be a sovereign. And truly this is the case with 
Louisa. Born in a hut, she would still have been a Queen ; 
and were she not a Queen, still every feeling heart must do 
homage to her." 

Two days before the date of this letter, May 15, 1807, 
Louisa writes to her father from Kb'nigsberg in a tone of 
cheerfulness and hope, as to the results of the alliance with 
Russia, communicating also intelligence of the departure of 
" the excellent Bliicher " for Pomerania, of the movements of 
troops, of the revival of patriotism, and of her conviction 
that "all will yet go well, and we shall yet be happy." She 
mentions also the siege of Dantzig, and the bravery with 
which the garrison was holding out, the inhabitants furnishing 
the men with provisions, and all willing sooner to be buried 

* Eylert, " Charakterziige aus dem Leben Friedrich Wilhelms III.," vol. ii. 
He begins his Life of the Queen by quoting this chapter. 

LOUISA. 387 

under the ruins than surrender. " It is the same with Col- 
berg* and Graudenz; would that it had been thus with other 
fortresses. But enough of such evils ; let us turn our eyes to 
God, who never forsakes us, even when we forsake Him. The 
King is with the Emperor Alexander, with the army. He will 
remain there as long as the Emperor does. This glorious 
union, founded on unshakable steadfastness, gives the fairest 
hopes of permanence. Through perseverance we shall conquer ; 
of that I am convinced." But, alas for the delusiveness of 
human hopes ! when she wrote again to her father, little more 
than a month afterwards, f Dantzig had fallen ; Louisa had again 

* Colberg, a small and hitherto neglected fortress, had been noticed by Schill, 
a young Prussian officer of the Queen's Regiment, a member of the "Tugend 
bund," as affording admirable facilities for the landing of Russian troops by sea; 
after the Prussian misfortunes he established himself there, and with a handful of 
followers "with no saddles to their horses, and their swords belted on by a 
rope," kept up a guerilla warfare upon the enemy. Colberg, owing to the fame 
acquired by Schill, had to undergo a siege ; Schill was treacherously imprisoned 
by the governor of the place, but a citizen named Nettlebeck then took the com- 
mand, and held out long and bravely. 

^"Memel, June 17, 1807. A new and terrible affliction has come upon us, 
and we are on the point of leaving the kingdom. Imagine my feelings on the 
occasion. Yet I entreat you, for God's sake, do not mistake your daughter, do 
not believe that cowardice thus bows my head. I have two convictions which 
raise me above everything ; the first is the thought that we are no sport of blind 
chance, but that we are in God's hand, and that Providence guides us; the 
second, that we fall with honour. The King has proved to the whole world has 
he proved it that he deserves not shame, but honour. Prussia will never volun- 
tarily submit to slavish fetters. Not in a single step could the King have acted 
otherwise, without proving unfaithful to his own character, and a traitor to his 
people. How strengthening these reflections are, they alone can know who are 
penetrated by truly honourable feelings. But to the subject. In consequence of 
the unfortunate battle of Friedland, Konigsberg has fallen into French hands. 
We are pressed by the enemy, and if the danger approaches yet nearer, I shall be 
tinder the necessity of leaving Memel with my children. The King will again 
unite himself with the Emperor. I shall go so soon as the danger becomes im- 
minent to Riga. God will help me to support the moment when I must pass the 
boundaries of the kingdom. It will require strength, but I direct my eyes to 
Heaven, from whence comes all, both of good and of evil; and my firm belief is 
that He will not send us more than we can bear. 

"Yet, once again, best of fathers, we fall with honour, respected by other 
nations ; and we shall ever have friends, because we deserve them. I cannot tell 
you how tranquillising is this thought. I bear all with that calmness and resigna- 

c c 2 


been obliged to seek shelter in Memel ; Konigsberg was in 
the hands of the French ; the battle of Friedland had quenched 
all hopes from the alliance; and the Emperor Alexander, 
despite the vows of eternal friendship and alliance of "All 
Fools' Day, 1807," had agreed on a suspension of hostilities, 
apart from Prussia, and was about on the very next day after 
the date of the last part of that letter, to meet Napoleon 
on the Niemen, and to lavish upon him embraces and enthu- 
siastic professions of friendship, such as had so short a time 
before assured the trustful King of Prussia, when he had it in 
his power to make a separate peace with Napoleon, that they 
would " stand or fall together." And now, what indignities 
were to be heaped upon the head of the unfortunate Prince ! 
The French Emperor was solicited to allow Alexander's protege, 

tion which only peace of conscience and a well-grounded hope can give. If God 
give peace to the breast of the good man, he will ever have cause for joy. Still 
one thing more for your comfort ; that nothing will ever take place on our side 
which is not consonant with the strictest honour, and which does not agree with 
the whole course of our conduct. That I know will comfort you, as well as all 
who belong to me. 

( ' I am ever your true, obedient, deeply-affectionate daughter, and, thank God 
that your goodness allows me to say it, your friend, ''Louis A." 

"June 24. My letters are still here, because not only wind, but storms, make 
all egress of shipping impossible. I now send you a safe messenger, and therefore 
continue to give you news from hence. The army has been necessitated to retire 
by degrees, and an armistice for four weeks has been concluded by the Russians. 
The sky often clears up when one expects bad weather ; it may be so here. No 
one can wish it as I do ; still wishes are but wishes, and must not be built upon. 
Yet all comes from Thee, Father of Goodness ! My faith shall not waver, yet I 
can hope no more. I appeal with respect to that to my letter, it is written from 
the depths of my soul. You know me wholly when you have read it, dear father. 
On the path of right to live, to die, or if so it must be, to live upon bread and 
salt, never shall I be wholly unhappy, yet I can hope no more. One who has 
been thus thrust down from his heaven can hope no more. Come good oh ! no 
one can receive it more thankfully than I, but I no longer expect it ; come evil it 
may for a moment bewilder me, but it can never crush me so long as it is not de- 
served. Wrong alone on our side would bring me to the grave, but we stand high 
and firm in the right. You see, best of fathers, the enemy of mankind cannot 
prevail against me. The King has been with the Emperor since the 19th ; yes- 
terday they went to Taganrog, only a few miles from Tilsit, where the French 
Emperor is." 

LOUISA. 389 

the kingdomless Frederic William, to appear in his august 
presence ; and when admitted to that honour, the successor of 
Frederic the Great, in his plain, soldier-like attire, was favoured 
by no return of his salutation to the Emperor, save that con- 
veyed by Napoleon's haughty question to the gentlemen ushers, 
whether they were not aware that the military shako and mous- 
tache were not parts of the prescribed dress in which it was 
customary for the parvenu " citoyen de la republique," to re- 
ceive those who were admitted to an audience. But, alas ! that 
this should not have been the crowning insult which Prussia's 
royalty was destined to receive at the hands of Napoleon. 
Alas ! that that pure, fair Princess, who shared it, should have 
been called upon by the great love that she bore her country, 
to sacrifice herself, by stooping to propitiate the conqueror, 
and to sacrifice herself in vain ! 

When, after that famous meeting upon the raft on the 
Niemen, at which the preliminaries of peace were so speedily 
settled, by almost the first words of Alexander, " I hate the 
English as much as you do," and the reply of Napoleon, " If 
so, peace is concluded," the King of Prussia was summoned to 
take part in the conferences of the two Emperors, his position 
was a most painful and humiliating one ; uncertain of the 
friendship of Alexander, and all but insulted by Napoleon; 
unable, for the sake of his country, to resent the treatment he 
received, yet galled to the very soul by its insolence, although 
he never forgot his self-respect, never lost his quiet dignity of 
manner and bearing, yet the burden was almost greater than 
he could bear. Lefebvre says, "The King of Prussia was 
present at the interviews of the two Emperors, as a trouble- 
some and unhappy witness. In his presence, both laid a re- 
striction upon their communications, and waited his departure 
to give utterance to the secret feelings of their hearts. Na- 
poleon felt an invincible ill-will towards the King, and was 
imprudent enough to let it appear. Frederic William's 
reserve was increased by the difficulty of his position, be- 


tween an irreconcilable enemy and a friend to whom he felt 
himself to be burdensome. He was wholly dejected; every 
feature of his face, every word, his whole manner showed it." 
He sent Schladen to remind the Russian minister of the ar- 
ticles of the treaty of Bartenstein; but Budberg could only 
tell him that the Emperors meant to negotiate the treaty per- 
sonally, and that Napoleon had said to Alexander, " If you will 
be my secretary, I will be yours ; if you concede me a finger's 
length, I will give you the length of an arm." Alexander even 
allowed Napoleon to utter coarse jokes upon his unhappy ally in 
his presence, without remonstrance. "Alas I" wrote Schladen, 
" the autocrat of Russia plays before Napoleon a part but little 
becoming his dignity, he seems to be engrossed by the idea 
of winning him by means of flattery."* "This Alexander," 
says another writer, " is born for Prussia's misfortune. In the 
year 1805 he sounds the tocsin, before all is prepared for war; 
he declares war with presumption ; with presumption bursts into 
Moravia, despite Austria's displeasure; retires with pusilla- 
nimity after he has received his lesson ; disbands his troops 
without foreseeing the approaching outbreak of war. His assist- 
ance to us in 1806-7 was as destructive to us as the attack of 
the enemy ; and he ends by helping to plunder his ally. I ask, 
if Alexander had been Prussia's bitterest enemy, could he have 
acted in a manner more calculated to accelerate our downfall, 
than he has done whilst he called himself our friend ? " f 

In order to deprive Frederic William of his last friend, and 
Prussia of her last support, Napoleon once more haughtily 
declined to treat with Hardenberg. Frederic William tried to 
temporize, but the refusal was repeated in stronger terms ; 
there was no help for it, Hardenberg must be sacrificed. When 
Napoleon told Alexander that there should no longer be a 
" King of Prussia, scarcely a Margrave of Brandenburg," the 
latter' s conscience, hitherto so sluggish with regard to his ally, 

* See Forster, " Sects Jahre." 

f See Forster, Letter from Gneisenau to Stein, 1809. 

LOUISA. 391 

took the alarm, and he began to exert himself in earnest, but in 
vain, on behalf of Frederic William. As a last resource, he 
bethought himself to try the power of the Queen's beauty of 
person, and fascination of manner upon Napoleon. With this 
view, he desired Kalkreuth to convey to her an invitation to 
come to Tilsit, sanguinely promising the happiest results from 
her compliance. It was a heavy sacrifice to demand of a Queen 
and a woman, that she should lay aside, at least apparently, her 
resentment against the man who had not only driven her husband 
from his throne, but had also cast the vilest aspersions upon her 
own honour, and should stoop to approach him as a suppliant. 
N* woman of less nobility of mind could have done it, no woman 
of less purity of character would have done it. The sacrifice 
was demanded on behalf of husband and country she agreed 
to make it. There was an entry made in that silent recipient 
of her secret feelings, her diary at that time. " What struggles 
it has cost me God only knows, for if I do not hate the man, I 
look upon him as the one who has caused the misfortune of the 
King and of the country. However much I may admire his 
talents, I cannot admire his deceitful character. It will cost 
me much to be courteous to him, but the hardship is required 
of me, and I am used to make sacrifices." Those whose judg- 
ment was coolest and clearest foresaw that the sacrifice would 
be useless, and dissuaded her from going but with the brilliant 
hopes and confident assurances of the Russian Emperor still 
ringing in her ears, she felt that, even if it proved a failure, 
the effort must be made. Napoleon, on his side, looked for- 
ward with some little hesitation to the proposed visit ; he had 
heard so much of the fascination of the Queen of Prussia, that 
he almost feared to expose himself to its influence. He delayed 
the interview, therefore, until the treaty could be completed 
within twenty-four hours, and then an appointment was made 
for Queen Louisa to dine with the two Emperors at Tilsit. 
Rooms were prepared for her reception at that place, and she 
repaired thither on the 5th July. Napoleon paid her the first 


visit, the King received him at the door. He saluted with his 
riding whip, and ascended the stairs to her apartments. " Sire/' 
said she, as she greeted him, " I am sorry you have had the 
trouble of ascending such inconvenient steps to visit me," 
and to Napoleon's commonplace " With such an object one 
could surmount anything," she rejoined, in a low voice, " For 
those whom Heaven favours, earth presents no obstacles." 
"Your Majesty should have thought of that sooner," said 
Napoleon, " why did you, of all others, make war upon me ? " 
In a tremulous voice, Louisa replied, " Prussia deceived herself 
as to her strength. She ventured to make war upon the hero 
of his century, to oppose the Destiny of France and neglect her 
friendship, it is true, but it is hard to be so punished for it ;" 
and then with that most moving of all eloquence, the pleading 
of the heart she conjured him to prove himself a hero, in the 
best sense of the word, by showing magnanimity to a van- 
quished foe, not to drive a defeated enemy to despair, and 
" Oh ! at least to give back Magdeburg," whose loss had cost 
her so much pain, that she afterwards said the name would be 
found written on her heart after her death. Napoleon was 
somewhat shaken, but Talleyrand, like an evil genius, was at 
hand to whisper, as he saw the signs of softness come over his 
master's face, " Shall posterity say Napoleon sacrificed his 
greatest conquest to a pretty woman ?" At dinner Louisa was 
seated between the two Emperors ; Napoleon treated her with 
the greatest deference, and no opportunity did she allow to slip 
which could bring in a word for Prussia. Her husband, seated 
on Napoleon's left hand, and feeling all the sacrifice that she 
was making for his sake, was even more dejected than usual ; 
he spoke of the pain of losing hereditary provinces " Such 
losses are common in the chances of war," said the Emperor. 
"Your Majesty can afford to make light of it," replied the 
King, somewhat hastily; "you do not know what it is to lose 
provinces which have descended to you, and which you can 
forget as little as your cradle." " The camp should be the 

LOUISA. 393 

cradle ; a man has no time to think about such things," said 
Napoleon. At the conclusion of the repast he plucked a rose 
from a tree which stood at the window, and presented it to the 
Queen. " I accept it," said she, " but not without Magde- 
burg." Napoleon answered, roughly, "I must observe to your 
Majesty that it is I who give, and you who receive the gift." 
" There is no rose without thorns, but none with such thorns 
as this," said the Queen, sadly. The conversation then became 
more general, and Louisa dared venture on no more entreaties 
for Prussia. Nevertheless, Schladen's diary says " 7th July : 
The Queen returned * from Tilsit to-day, filled with the sweet- 
est hopes ; many shared in these hopes, that through the fright- 
ful humiliation of the unfortunate Queen, the proud conqueror 
would grant her petition. After dinner .... we were all 
cheerful and happy, when Count Goltz appeared, and informed 
the King that he had had an audience with Napoleon, in 
which the latter had informed him harshly, that all he had said 
to the Queen had been mere courtly phrases, which bound him to 
nothing ; that he was firmly resolved to give the King the Elbe 
as his boundary ; that there was no further room for negotiation, 
for that he had already definitively settled the treaty with the 
Emperor of Russia; and that Frederic William had to thank 
that Prince's chivalrous adherence to his ally for the terms he 
had received, since, without his interference, Jerome Buonaparte 
would have been King of Prussia, and the present royal family 
expelled, for, under the circumstances, it was a mere matter of 
courtesy to leave the King any part of his territories; and, 
finally, after a long-winded declamation, crowded with invective 
and accusation, Napoleon sent Graf Goltz to Talleyrand, who 
took from his portefeuille several sheets of paper which con- 
tained the articles of the treaty, read, them to him, but scarcely 
allowed the plenipotentiary to see them himself, and informed 
him that no further concessions were to be expected, and that, 
Napoleon b^ing anxious to return to Paris as soon as possible, 
the treaty must be completed by the next day." j- 

* To the King's quarters at Piktupohnen. t See Forster, "Sechs Jahre." 


Alexander having observed the effect temporarily produced 
upon Napoleon by the Queen's presence, resolved once more to 
try that means of even yet obtaining better terms for Prussia : he 
accordingly again invited the Queen to Tilsit, and again, in the 
hope of better success, she accepted the invitation. Napoleon 
was more courteous than on the last interview, for the treaty 
was now completed, and he had nothing to fear on the score of 
compliance. When the Queen proposed to take leave, Napoleon 
offered her his arm ; he stopped upon the stairs, and she, mak- 
ing one last despairing effort for her country, seized his hand, 
and pressing it convulsively said, in a voice of mingled bitter- 
ness and pain, " Is it possible, that after I have had the satis- 
faction of approaching the man of the age, and of the world's 
history, he will not grant me the privilege and the happiness, of 
being able to assure him that he has won me for my whole 
life ? " " Madam/' replied Napoleon, drily, " I am to be 
pitied, it is the influence of my evil star." At those words, 
Alexander, who had leaned forward eagerly, drew back : the 
unfortunate Louisa threw herself, sobbing, into her carriage, 
overwhelmed by the full sense of the bitter and useless degra- 
dation to which she had submitted, and, pointing to Napoleon's 
dwelling, she exclaimed, " That is a house where I have been 
fearfully deceived."* 

Napoleon himself afterwards, when speaking of this inter- 
view, acknowledged not only that the " Queen of Prussia was 
the most beautiful woman he had ever seen," f but also that, 
" in spite of his address and utmost efforts, she constantly led 
the conversation, returned at pleasure to her subject, and di- 
rected it as she chose, but still with so much tact and delicacy, 
that it was impossible to take offence. And in truth it must 
be confessed that the objects were of infinite importance, the 
time short and precious." J Even in this, the greatest personal 

* See Forster. 

+ See Duchesse d'Abrantes' " Memoirs." 

J Alison's " History of Europe." Napoleon still maintained, even, at St. 
Helena, that the Queen of Prussia was the virtual sovereign of Prussia. "She 
virtually governed Prussia during fifteen years," said he. 

LOUISA. 395 

sacrifice which Louisa had been called upon to make, she did 
not escape the voice of slander from the partisans of Napoleon, 
but these accusations seem either not to have reached her, or, 
if they did, to have fallen unheeded upon the calm integrity of 
her own conscience. 

The peace was finally concluded, and signed on the 9th of 
July, 1807, at midnight. The Queen writes, " Peace is signed, 
but at what a painful price ! Our boundaries for the future 
are only to extend to the Elbe. Nevertheless the King is 
greater than his opponent. He could have made an advan- 
tageous peace after Eylau, but he would not voluntarily treat 
with the evil principle, or ally himself with him ; now, con- 
strained by necessity, he has negotiated, but does not ally 
himself. This will bring Prussia a blessing some day. At 
Eylau, too, he must have forsaken a true ally, and that he would 
not do. The King's acting thus will bring success to Prussia, 
that is my firm belief." 

The King and Queen now returned to Memel, followed by 
the loving sympathy of the whole nation ; the misfortunes of 
the royal couple acted as an appeal to the patriotism of the 
people, and every heart responded to it warmly. When Frederic 
William took leave, by letter, of the subjects of his lost pro- 
vinces, a general burst of affection and regret was the response. 
The King and Queen were especially touched by one letter from 
Lower Westphalia, in the old Platt-Deutsch mother tongue. 
" Our hearts were nigh to break/' ran this letter, " when we read 
thy farewell to us ; we could not persuade ourselves that we should 
cease to be thy true subjects, we who loved thee always so much. 
As true as we live, it is not thy fault that thy generals were too 
bewildered and confused to lead the disordered troops to us, and 
to have called us and our ploughmen to a new battle; we would 
have risked body and life upon it, and would certainly have saved 
the country/' &c. Von Colin writes at this time, " My feelings 
urge me to Memel ; Frederic William, born to the throne, and 
the father of his people, is now banished to the furthest ex- 


tremity of his dominions, into a country town, where, in a 
simple private house, nothing but his own virtues, and the 
loving attentions of his wife can comfort him, and preserve 

him from despair." " If ever a king deserved 

the sympathy of posterity, it is Frederic William ; if ever a 
Queen deserved respect, admiration, love, adoration, it is Louisa, 
the unfortunate Queen of Prussia. She, with every claim 
upon a glittering throne, who had for ten years enjoyed it, 
who was always a mother to the land, who in time of war showed 
herself a truly heroic woman, who with torn heart and suf- 
fering frame underwent all its hardships, and who at least 
compelled the respect of Napoleon, now lives in Memel, in the 
bosom of her family, employed with womanly work, her con- 
science comforting her for the past, and giving her hopes for 
the future. And all this we see, we who call ourselves Prus- 
sians, see it with patience, and do not foam and gnash our teeth 
with rage ; we do not tear to pieces the wretches who caused all 
this misfortune; nay, some of us are even shameless enough to 
revile the unfortunate King." Frederic William and Louisa 
were indeed compelled to adopt all the simplicity of private in- 
dividuals in their manner of life at Memel ; the enormous de- 
mands * of Napoleon could in no way be met by Prussia in her 
reduced and impoverished state ; every possible expedient was 
had recourse to to procure the money, as of course so long as it 
remained a debt, Napoleon would have an excuse for maintain- 
ing French garrisons in the Prussian fortresses. The King and 
Queen made every imaginable personal sacrifice ; even the 
golden table service of Frederic the Great was melted down; 
Frederic William was obliged to borrow ; and to accept the con- 
tributions which some of his subjects sent in, as presents, f to 

* Prussia had lost at least half, both of her territories and her population, and 
upon the remaining portion, already exhausted by the war, Napoleon, in the inter- 
val between 1806 and 1808, levied the enormous sum of upwards of twenty-four 
million pounds sterling. See Alison's "History of Europe." 

f The Mennonites sent one of their body to the King, to present to him the 

LOUISA. 397 

meet the expenses of his household, and even then, many a 
citizen of Meinel kept a better table than the King and Queen 
of Prussia.* 

Thus, hemmed in on every side, sorely tried and tempted, 
sometimes when " the deep waters came in, even unto his soul/' 
dark doubts of the overruling providence of God would, for a 
time, overcloud the serenity of Frederic William's faith. Bishop 
Borrowsky was his chief counsellor and support in these seasons 
of peculiar trial. " He proves to me," said the King, " both 
out of the Holy Scriptures and out of profane history, that 
God^s ways are often dark and mysterious, but always holy and 
salutary, so that, at last, all Wrong destroys itself, and all Right 
conquers. States and their rulers often need refining, that 
the dross accumulated by prosperity may be burnt away again. 
He who is not improved by misfortune is incapable of improve- 
ment. We must be patient and believing, and firm in adver- 
sity; we must wait, and not prescribe time and measure and 
purpose to God. He -will come and help us if we are found 
worthy to be helped." Which was the truest philosopher, 
Frederic II., or Frederic William III. ? when both apparently 
ruined, the one talked of poison, but did not take it, and con- 
tented himself with writing obscene verses instead the other 

sum of 3000 Louis d'or which had been subscribed amongst them; the messenger 
was accompanied by his wife, who brought the Queen a basket of fresh butter. 
Frederic William and Louisa were gratified and touched by the simplicity with 
which these offerings were made ; the King accepted the Louis d'or, and the Queen 
took a shawl from her shoulders, and, with tears in her eyes, presented it to the 
good woman as a remembrance. The Mennonites are a sect who devote themselves 
to the rearing of cattle and other agricultural pursuits ; they ' ' abhor war, and 
keep themselves clear of the world, in order to fit themselves for heaven." See 

* The strict economy and self-denial of the King and Queen of Prussia at this 
season of pressure, presents a striking contrast to the conduct of the French emi- 
grants in Prussia at the time of the Revolution ; for, although the funds upon 
which the latter subsisted were almost wholly contributions from foreign sources, 
the most wasteful extravagance prevailed at their quarters ; thus, for instance, 
we hear of these luxurious exiles having "hams steeped in Burgundy ;" "pounds 
of butter thrown upon the fire to make it burn ;" " only the best parts of fowls 
sent to table;" "baths of the juices of meat and wine," &c. &c. Ibid. 


said, " let us be patient and steady, and wait, and God will 
come and help us." 

And help came soon, even by means of Napoleon himself, 
who, when he declined to treat with Hardenberg, suggested 
that Stein should be recalled. Stein the " Eck and Grund 
and Edel- Stein" * of the Prussian state was accordingly sum- 
moned, and the administration of the interior, in his skilful 
hands, soon began to show a tendency towards recovery. Stein 
had been already employed in the ministry in the year 1806, 
and had accompanied the King to Konigsberg, but his pride 
rebelled at the interference of the privy councillor Beyme in his 
department, and in consequence of the differences of the two 
ministers, Stein had received his dismissal 3rd Jan., 1807, 
couched in terms of extreme harshness and injustice. The tone 
of this document, which styled Stein a " factious, contumelious, 
self-willed, and disobedient minister, who, proud of his own 
genius and talent, far from setting the good of the State before 
his eyes, is guided by caprice, and acts from personal hatred 
and revenge," rendered it highly doubtful whether he would 
listen to the recall. The Queen had vainly endeavoured to re- 
concile him with Beyme ; in the beginning of the year she 
wrote to Stein, and even, in order to make the appeal stronger, 
did so in their common mother- tongue, instead of the French, 
in which her education had made it her custom to write f " Ich 

* Corner and foundation and precious stone. Stein's name furnished innume- 
rable puns at the time : he was "turned into stone" at the exorbitant demands 
of Napoleon; he was the Emperor's "Stone of stumbling;" and he and the 
French Pro-consul at Berlin, Pierre Daru ("the monster Daru" Stein called him), 
were ' ' Stone against Stone." It is curious that Stein, Hardenberg and Scharnhorst, 
the three best ministers of Prussia in these troublous times, were neither of them 

-f- She always regretted that the German language, as was then customary, had 
been so much neglected in her education, that, although she greatly admired its 
nervous strength and its copiousness, and rejoiced at the success of its cultivation 
by the great authors of the day, she never could herself acquire the habit of 
writing it with ease, and its orthography always presented an insuperable obstacle 
to her efforts. She once sent a memoir, which she had compiled in German, to Stein, 
begging him to correct it. " Streichen Sie, Setzen Sie zu nach Belieben, ich werde 

LOUISA. 399 

beschwore Sie, haben Sie nur Geduldt mit den ersten Monathen, 
Der Konig halt gewiss seyn Wort. Beyme kommt weg aber 
erst in Berlin : solange geben Sie nach. Dass um Gottes-willen 
die Giite nicht urn drei Monath Gedult und Zeit iiber den 
HaufFen fallen. Ich beschwore Sie um Konig, Vaterland, 
meine kinder und mein selbst-willen, darum Gedult. LOUISE."* 
She now tried every means of inducing him to forgive the past, 
and to take upon himself once more the care of the government. 
Hardenberg, upon his own retirement, had been commissioned 
by the King to write and offer Stein the office of Minister of 
the Interior. The Queen now begged others, whom she knew 
to have influence with him, to use their utmost endeavours to in- 
duce him to return. The Princess Louisa Radizwill, with whom 
as well as with her brother, Prince Louis, he had always been 
on terms of peculiar friendship, wrote earnestly to him (10th 
July, 1807) : " The King," said she, " at this moment de- 
serves our whole sympathy, for his courage and firmness have 
not been shaken throughout our last misfortunes ; he has shown 
himself ready to make any sacrifices, and impressed with the 
idea that it is better to fall nobly than to survive disgrace. 
Towards you, my dear Stein, all our eyes are simultaneously 
directed in this emergency. You will surely be so magnani- 
mous as to forget all which removed you from us." Frau von 
Berg, also the mutual friend of the Queen and of SteiD, wrote 
beseeching him, by the Queen's virtues as a wife and a mother, 
to be her support, and the security of the King, against men, 
who were dangerous both to his honour and to the welfare of 
the state. But Stein was too magnanimous to need even the 

sehr dankbar seyn. Renvoyez la moi bient6t et ne riez pas des fautes d'orto- 
graphe, mais c'est plus fort que moi, et je m'en facherai toute ma vie sans y 
remedier comme il faut." 

* *' I conjure you, only have patience for the first few months. The King will 
certainly keep his word. Beyme will be dismissed, however, in Berlin. Give 
way for so long for God's sake do not let the good cause be shipwrecked for the 
sake of three months' patience. I conjure you, therefore, for the sake of King, 
country, my children and myself patience. Louise." 


appeals of friendship to call him to what he felt to be his duty 
towards the country ; although ill in bed at the time, he made 
neither excuse nor delay, but accepted the office unconditionally, 
and hastened, as soon as possible, to present himself to the 
King. And terribly in need of him were both King and country 
before he arrived ; for the conditions for the evacuation of the 
fortresses were not fulfilled, and the constant fresh demands 
from the French filled all hearts with despair ; whilst the Prus- 
sian envoy at Paris was treated with the utmost disregard by 
Napoleon and his Cabinet. The Queen writes, Sept., 1807 : 
" It is incredible what we have to submit to ; yesterday we 
received intelligence from Knobelsdorf, at Paris, where he is 
treated like a lackey ; it is impossible for him to place his pro- 
posals before Napoleon, for he has only been admitted to him 
once, and then as it were by chance ; the Prince of Baden and 
Cambaceres were in the room. Napoleon treated him with the 
greatest contempt. The conduct of Napoleon's circle is of the 
same stamp. Champagny (the French Minister for Foreign 
Affairs) said to Knobelsdorf, ' We shall see how Prussia con- 
ducts herself; it is to be hoped she will be pretty submissive to 
the Emperor's will / he also said, that ( all the fault lay with 
us and our bad disposition; that the proceedings of France 
towards us, for the future, will be regulated by our own con- 
duct/ Now, also, a portion of Silesia is torn from us, which, 
at the conclusion of peace, was expressly preserved to us under 
the title of New Silesia; and when Knobelsdorf remonstrated, 
Champagny said it was a slip of the pen an error ! Say if 
that be not enough to justify despair. Alas ! my God, why 
hast Thou forsaken us ? Where is Stein ? he is my last comfort. 
Great of heart, of comprehensive mind, he may know some 
outlet which lies hid from us." 

" Stein is coming," wrote the Queen again, shortly before 
his arrival, " and with him a little light dawns upon me. Yet there 
is no future without independence. Marshal Soult is a terrible 
man, and if he goes on thus he will hold us prisoners in Memel 

LOUISA. 401 

for years, for he does what he chooses, and is well matured in 
the school in which he has been brought up." Stein, the 
long sighed for, the Hercules of reform who was to "cleanse 
the Augean stables of the Prussian internal administration," * 
came at last, and with him came a gleam of hope into the 
hearts of all. The Queen writes once more, " Thank God 
that Stein is here ; that is a proof that God has not forsaken 
us." Stein, of whom so much has been said and written, 
and of whose character so many dissentient views have been 
given, yet of whom all agreed that he was the man for the 
time, was a minister of great and commanding talent; his 
disposition was hasty f and irritable ; he was rough in his ex- 
terior ; " his countenance presents two worlds," says Arndt ; J 
"on the upper part rule the stormless gods, but mortals 
have their dwelling on the lower part; there reign anger, 
scorn, and the impulse of passion Olympus smiles above 
-while the storms rage below." Niebuhr accuses Stein of par- 
tiality, and of showing favour to unworthy characters ; never- 
theless, despite all the faults with which he was charged, de- 
cided, energetic, possessed of vast funds of information, from 
English travel and other sources, lucid in judgment, sharp and 
laconic in speech, "his integrity without spot, his activity with- 
out bounds," " if any one could reorganize the state Stein was 
the man to do it ; " if he did occasionally take bad measures, 
at least he carried them through ; there was no vacillation in 
his mind, and therefore none in his actions ; and, above all, 
"with rarely-liberal views Stein combined a conscientiousness 

* Scheffner. 

f One of his servants having inadvertently scattered the contents of the ink- 
stand, instead of the sand-box, over a writing which Stein had just signed, the 
latter, in the impetuous anger of the moment, seized the paper and rubbed it 
violently in the man's face ; but his anger soon subsided on such occasions, and 
he was anxious to repair his hasty actions : he gave the servant a paper with a 
double Louis d'or in it the next time he saw him. Vehse. 

J See Pertz's "Leben des Freiherrn Stein von Altenstein." 

Von Colin. 

D D 


equally rare." * Fortunate, indeed, it was, that a man so sin- 
gularly qualified to take the helm at that moment, should have 
been found to do so, for a task of enormous difficulty lay before 
him. Shortly after his return to office the Queen writes, "Stein 
ist zum erstemal in Stein verwandelt, at the last claim, or rather 
order, for a contribution of one hundred and fifty millions, one- 
third to be paid in ready money ; the rest, half in promissory 
notes, the other half from the sale of domains ; and in order to 
be certain that the terms of payment are complied with, the 
French demand five fortresses as pledges of it, Graudenz and 
Colberg, which both defended themselves so bravely against the 
enemy, Stettin, Kustrin, and Glogau; these are to be garrisoned 
with forty thousand French troops; the King is required to 
clothe, arm, and feed them, and to give for that purpose 
twelve million Thalers; the domains of the Mark and 
Magdeburg, between the Oder and Elbe, and in Pomerania, 
to be given up to Napoleon to be governed, or disposed of, 
if he chooses, instead of the other fifty millions. Certainly 
forty thousand men cannot find room in the fortresses, con- 
sequently land must be provided for them, or rather they 
will take it themselves, and then what remains for us ? 
This is our frightful position ; every one here is in despair. 
My strength, too, forsakes me now ; it is frightful, terrible, 
hard, especially since it is undeserved. My future is of the 
gloomiest. If we only keep Berlin but sometimes the thought 
weighs on my boding heart that that too will be taken from us, 
and made the capital of another kingdom ; then I should have 
only one wish, to emigrate far away, to live as private people, 
and, if possible forget. Oh, God! what is to become of Prussia; 
forsaken by weakness, persecuted by arrogance, enfeebled by 
misfortune, we must perish utterly. Ruin is inevitable. Savary, 
the French ambassador in St. Petersburg, has declared that the 
Austrian mediation will have no effect, and has sent us the kind 

* Vehse. 

LOUISA. 403 

advice to sell our jewels and valuables to dare to say this to 
us ! " * 

This was, indeed, the " Passion-time " of Prussia and of 
Prussia's Queen. Already had the hot sun begun to dry up 
the bright dewdrops from the flower-garden of her life, and 

* Subjoined is one of Louisa's letters to her father, dated early in the spring of 
1808, which is interesting as containing a clear and just view of the state of 
affairs, and of the tendency of events, as well as on account of the beautiful spirit 
of Christian resignation which breathes from it, and which caused it to be said 
that her letters were written "with a pen from the wing of an angel." 

"All is over with us, for the present, if not for ever. For my life I hope no- 
thing more ; I have resigned myself, and in this resignation, in this dispensation 
of Heaven, I am now tranquil, and enjoy a repose which, if it be not earthly hap- 
piness, is something more, even spiritual peace. 

"It becomes ever clearer to me that all was ordained to take place as it has done. 
Divine Providence is unmistakably introducing new combinations of affairs, and a 
wholly different order of things will arise, for the old one has overlived itself and 
crumbled together, all dead and decayed. We have fallen asleep on the laurels of 
Frederic the Great, who, the hero of his century, created a new era. We have 
not advanced with the time, it has therefore left us behind. We may learn much 
from the French Emperor, and what he has accomplished will not be lost. It 
would be blasphemy to say, God be with him, yet evidently he is an instrument in 
the hand of the Almighty to bury those old institutions in which, indeed, there is 
no life, but which have become deeply rooted by time. 

"Certainly things will become better. For that we have the security of our 
faith in the Almighty. Yet good can only come into the world through the good. 
Therefore I do not believe that the Emperor Napoleon is firm and secure upon his 
now truly glittering throne. Truth and justice alone are calm and secure, and he 
js only politic, that is prudent ; he directs his course, not by eternal laws, but by 
circumstances, as they exist at present ; by this means he tarnishes his reiga with 
many acts of injustice. He does not mean honestly by the good cause and by 
mankind. He in his boundless ambition consults only himself and his personal 
interest. One must admire, but one cannot love him. He is dazzled by his success, 
and he thinks nothing is impossible to him ; he is therefore without all modera- 
tion ; and he who does not keep within measure loses his balance and falls. I 
believe firmly on God, and also in the moral government of the world. This I do 
not perceive in the dominance of violence. On this account I have a hope that a 
better time will follow the present evil one. 

"All the better portion of mankind expect and wish the same, and one must 
not be led astray by the eulogists of the present and its hero. All that has hap- 
pened and is still happening, is unmistakably not the ultimate good, as it shall 
come, and shall remain, but only the paving of the way to a better end. This goal 
seems still to lie in the remote distance ; we shall not behold its attainment, but 
shall die upon the road. As God wills All as He wills it. But I find strength, 
courage, and cheerfulness in this hope, which lies deep in my soul. Is then all in 

D D 2 



the flowers were turning into cypresses.* Yet not wholly so, 
whilst she could still write, " Amidst my sorrow there are still 
days with which I am content : it is true that man has no share 
in my happiness, which is wholly inward : as regards outward 
things, it is the friendship of the King alone, his confidence 
and his affectionate behaviour, which make my happiness." 
But Louisa's health had suffered much from grief and trouble, 
and she feared the cold, dreary winter in the bleak climate of 
Memel; on the 15th Jan., 1808, therefore, the evacuation of 
the French troops as far as the Weichsel having been at length 
effected, she, her husband and children, went to Konigsberg. 
The Princesses William and Radizwill, who, as well as her sister 
the Princess of Solms, had remained with her and cheered 
her by their society throughout all her distresses, also accom- 
panied her thither. Frederic William, before leaving Memel, 
sent a letter of thanks to the " brave and good citizens of Memel, 
for the manifold and hearty proofs of love, faithfulness, and 
attachment to my person, to my wife, and to my whole family, 
during my residence amongst them, and as it will never be for- 
gotten that Memel alone, of all the towns of my dominions, has 
been spared the immediate presence of war, so I shall always 
thankfully remember that Divine Providence has allowed my 
family to find shelter there/' &c. 

An affecting ceremonial took place at the christening of the 
child to which Louisa gave birth soon after her arrival at 
Konigsberg (1st Feb., 1808). The child was named Louisa 
by the King's particular desire. " May she prove a Louisa," 
he had said to his wife, when he expressed the wish. He now 

this world but in course of transit ? We must pass through, too. Let us take 
heed only that every day render us more prepared and better. Here, dear father, 
you have my political confession of faith, so far as I, as a woman, can form and 
put it together. Although it may have its flaws, I am contented with it ; yet ex- 
cuse me that I trouble you with it. You see, at least, from it, that you have a 
daughter who is piously resigned in misfortune, and that the principles of Christian 
fear of God, for which I have to thank your pious teaching and example, have 
borne, and will bear, fruit in me, so long as I have breath." 
* Jean Paul, " Schmerzlich-trostende Erinnerungen." 

LOUISA. 405 

invited representatives from all the Stande (z. e. from the nobi- 
lity, the citizens, and the agriculturists) of old Prussia, in whose 
chief town she was born, to be sponsors for the child, " and they 
stood amidst his family, and were his family, and laid their 
hands upon the child, and prayed for him and his house," says 
Bardeleben,* (" and with whom should he share his paternal 
cares, if not with his people ?) Then it grew still in the royal 
chambers, and deep emotion united every heart in one great 
common love and one great common sorrow. Louisa Wilhel- 
mina, the consecrated of the people, thou art the mediator 
between the King and us, the pledge of mutual truth; out of 
thine innocent eyes speak the people to the King, ' We are 
thine, master. Be strong, and remain true to thyself ! ' " As 
the spring advanced, the King hired a small country house in 
the village of Haben, near Konigsberg, where the author Hippel 
had formerly resided, in order that the Queen and the children 
might benefit by the country air ; here, although their esta- 
blishment was only that of private persons of the most moderate 
means, much simple pleasure was enjoyed by the King and 
Queen, even in the midst of their misfortunes. " One does 
not require much to be contented," said she ; " healthy air, 
tranquil scenery, a few shady trees, a few flower-beds, and an 
arbour, are enough ; my husband and I are, with our children, 
sufficient for ourselves : besides, I have good books, a good 
piano, and a good conscience; and thus one can live more 
quietly amidst the storms of life than those by whom the 
storms are excited." Had Louisa been able to forget her 
country's troubles, she might here have almost imagined herself 
back at Paretz, saysEylert, so great was the love which the simple 
country people lavished on her and her family here standing 
at the doors to bless them as they passed, and watching for 
occasions of affording them some little proof of their attach- 
ment. The flowers with which they garlanded the gates of the 
King's house upon his birthday were as precious to Louisa as 
* SeeForster, "Sechs Jahre." 


the gift of Oranienburg had been when she was a bride. Nor 
were these acts of kindness unreciprocated by the royal family, 
who, even in their poverty, had something for others still poorer 
than themselves. The elder of the royal children had been ac- 
commodated by a neighbour, there being no room for them in 
their father's house. Eylert relates that on the name-day of 
their hostess she had gone to a friend's house to celebrate the 
occasion, in order not to inconvenience her guests ; the Queen, 
hearing of it, immediately prepared a little entertainment in 
the good woman's own house, and sent a carriage for her and 
her friends, that she might as usual celebrate the day at home. 
And by a thousand such little instances as these did Louisa 
prove that, unselfish and kind-hearted as ever, she was still 
practising the golden rule, et Do unto others as thou wouldst 
that they should do unto thee." The following letter to her 
father, written about this time, shows that the effect of the 
comparative calm of their abode at Haben was producing a 
salutary effect upon her mind, which was gradually recovering 
its naturally cheerful tone : 

May, 1808. You will gladly hear, dear father, that the 
misfortune which has struck us has not penetrated to our mar- 
ried and domestic happiness, but has rather confirmed and pu- 
rified it. The King, the best of men, is more affectionate and 
kind than ever. I often think I see in him still the lover and 
the bridegroom. More given as he is to actions than to words, 
I recognise his consideration and love for me everywhere. Only 
yesterday he said to me, quietly and simply, with his truthful 
eyes fixed on me, ' Dear Louisa, thou hast become to me still 
dearer and more precious in misfortune ; now I know from ex- 
perience what I possess in thee. Let the storm beat without, 
so that it be and remain only fair weather in our union. It is 
because I love thee so that I have named our youngest daughter 
Louisa ; may she prove a Louisa/ This goodness moved me to 
tears. It is my pride, my joy, and my happiness, to possess the 
love and approbation of such a man, and because I reciprocate 

LOUISA. 407 

his love from my heart, and because we are so much at one 
together, that the will of the one is the will of the other, it is 
easy to me to maintain this happy, mutual understanding, which 
has become stronger with years. In one word, he suits me in 
every respect, and I suit him, and we are happiest when we are 
together. Forgive me, dear father, if I say this with a certain 
boastfulness ; it is but the simple expression of my happiness, 
which no one in the world has more warmly at heart than you, 
dearest and tenderest of fathers. To other people that also I 
have learnt from the King I do not wish to speak of it ; it is 
enough that we know it. Our children are our treasures, and 
upon them our eyes dwell with satisfaction and hope. The 
crown Prince is full of life and spirit ; he has considerable 
abilities, which are being happily cultivated and developed ; he 
is true in all his sentiments and words, his vivacity makes dis- 
simulation impossible ; he has a particular delight in the study 
of history, in which that which is great and good has an especial 
attraction for his imagination ; he has great appreciation of wit, 
and his droll and unexpected remarks often amuse us. He at- 
taches himself especially to his mother; he cannot be purer 
hearted than he is ; I love him very dearly, and often talk with 
him of the manner in which he must act when he shall be king. 

" Our son William* (let me introduce all your grandchildren 
to you in succession) will be, if I am not deceived, like his 
father, simple, honest and prudent. In his exterior also he re- 
sembles him the most, but he will not, I think, be so handsome. 
You see, dear father, I am still in love with my husband. 

" Our daughter Charlottef causes me ever-increasing pleasure. 
She is indeed silent and reserved, but, like her father, under a 
seemingly cold exterior she conceals a warm and feeling heart ; 
apparently indifferent, yet she is very loving and sympathizing. 
Hence there is something distinguished about her; if God should 
preserve her life, I foresee for her a brilliant future. 

* Born 1797 ; now Prince of Prussia. 

t Born 1798 ; afterwards Empress of Russia, 


" Karl is good-natured, merry, honest, and clever, and as well 
formed in body as in mind ; he often has naive ideas which make 
us laugh ; he is cheerful and witty, his incessant questions some- 
times perplex me, because I either cannot or do not like to answer 
them, yet it shows a wish for knowledge, and sometimes when 
he laughs slily, a little mischief also ; he, without want of feeling 
for the weal and woe of others, will pass easily through life. 

" Our daughter Alexandrina * is, like most little girls of her 
age and disposition, insinuating and childlike, she shows tokens 
of a just understanding and a lively imagination, and often laughs 
heartily ; she has much perception of the comic, and a dispo- 
sition for satire, she looks very serious withal ; yet this does not 
injure her disposition. 

" Of little Louisa f I can say nothing as yet. She has the 
profile of her honest father, and also the King's eyes, only 
somewhat lighter. She is named Louisa Mary ; may she indeed 
resemble her ancestress, the amiable and pious Louisa of Orange, 
the wife of the great Elector. 

" Here, my dear father, I have placed before you my whole 
portrait-gallery. You will say she is a partial mother, who sees 
only everything that is good in her children, and has no eyes 
for their faults and failings ; and in truth I do not find in any 
of them such bad dispositions as make me anxious for the future. 
They have, like other human children, their little faults, but 
these will disappear with time as they grow wiser. Circumstances 
and connections educate the man, and it may be good for our 
children that they should see the serious part of life whilst still 
in their youth ; if they were to grow up in the lap of superfluity 
and convenience they would think that things would always be 
so, but that it can be otherwise they see in the countenance of 
their father, and in the sadness and frequent tears of their 
mother. It is especially beneficial for the crown Prince that 
he should have learned to know misfortune whilst still crown 

* Archduchess of Mecklenburg-Schwerin. 

t Louisa married Prince Frederick of the Netherlands. 

LOUISA. 409 

Prince; he will, should a better time arise for him, as I 
hope it may, prize prosperity more highly, and guard it 
more carefully." 

Thus amidst the caresses of her happy young family did 
Louisa strive to bury the consciousness of misfortune : books, 
also, were an unfailing solace. " I read history industriously, 
and live in the past because the future is no longer for me. I 
am reading Silvern' s Lectures. I am now at Charlemagne, who 
was the especial founder of the German era. He stands life-like 
before me, in all his greatness, splendour and valour, but he 
attracts me less than Theodoric, who was a true German, his 
love of justice, the uprightness of his character, the depth of 
his feeling, and the magnanimity of his heart, prove it ; whilst 
there is already a tincture of the Frenchman about Charlemagne 
which rather startles me." She became acquainted with the 
author of these Lectures in the spring of the year. She wrote 
to her sister, " I have made acquaintance with Professor Sil- 
vern, which has put me somewhat in perplexity, for he paid 
me a compliment which I feel is but little deserved ; he said 
that my opinion of his history was as striking as it was flatter- 
ing. Yet, uninformed as I am, it must have been the ' majesty * 
which dazzled his judgment; deeply impressed by this con- 
viction, I appealed from his intellect to his feeling for he has 
feeling and answered that my approbation could have no 
possible value for him ; but I hoped the thought, that in this 
time of tears and misfortune he had proffered refreshment to 
my weary spirit, might prove a slight recompense to him. I 
hope he understood what I meant ; but if not, he will hear from 
Scheffner that the truth, to me, surpasses everything else, and 
that I look upon it as the soul of history." Queen Louisa's 
diffidence as to the value of her opinion on matters of literature 
and talent, seems to have been as great and as ill-founded as her 
husband's distrust of his own judgment in matters of action. 
Stein, who had said of the King, ci he has most profound views 
and a very clear judgment, without being aware of it, just as a 
good man does not know that he is good," said also to the 


Queen (whom he admired as an dcht deutsch Princess), " Oh ! 
gracious Queen, how unjust is your mistrust of your own judg- 
ment ! " whilst Scheffner told her " not to hide her light so often 
under a bushel" in these matters. 

The care and thought which Louisa bestowed upon the educa- 
ation of her own children, and the powerful effects which she 
observed to be produced by a consistent course of training, 
had led her to reflect much on the subject of education in its 
wider application, and the conviction had gradually impressed 
itself upon her mind, that the best and surest method of re- 
generating Prussia, would be, since the upper classes had be- 
come so corrupt, to extend this benefit to the lower orders. 
This growing impression caused her to read with avidity every 
book which she could obtain upon the subject. The writings 
of Pestalozzi, who was then carrying out his theory of edu- 
cation in Switzerland, of course, therefore, met with her most 
serious attention. " I am now," writes she, " reading * Lien- 
hard and Gertrude, a book for the people/ by Pestalozzi. I 
like this Swiss village so well, that were I my own mistress I 
would get into my carriage and roll away to Pestalozzi in 
Switzerland, to thank the noble man with tears in my eyes ; he 
does his best for mankind in the name of mankind I thank 
him for it." There was one passage in this work which par- 
ticularly pleased her ; it was this " Sorrow and suffering are 
God's blessings/' " Yes, and even in my sorrow I can say it is 
God's blessing," said she. " How much nearer am I to God 
by reason of it ! " 

The unhappy destiny of Spain, where the expulsion of 
another royal family showed the presence of Napoleon's hand, 
had, as may be supposed, awakened the Queen's commiseration. 
She writes, " It is a new finger-trace of the iron hand which is 
passing over the face of Europe ; a warning one for us. To 
dethrone his first ally in a moment of peace to sow division 
between father and son, and drive the Infant from his father's 
heart and house, and even from the country what may we, in 
our position, expect ? " Now, the brave struggles of the 

LOUISA. 411 

Spanish people, and the spirited contest for freedom in the 
Tyrol, aroused her lively sympathy, and she expressed it in 
glowing terms. " The flame of Freedom is kindled in Spain as 
in the Tyrol. ' Auf den Bergen wohnt die Freiheit ! ' does not 
this passage ring like a prophecy, when one looks on the moun- 
tain bauds that have risen at the call of their Hofer ? What a 
man is this Andreas Hofer ! a peasant is become a general, and 
what a general his arms are prayer, his ally God : he fights on 
bended knee with folded hands, and conquers as with the flam- 
ing sword of the cherubim. And this faithful Alpine people, 
child-like in their simplicity, they yet fight, like Titans, with 
the rocks they roll down from their mountains ; and in Spain 
also. Heavens ! if the time of the Maiden should come again, 
and if the enemy, the evil adversary, should at last be overcome, 
conquered by the same means as those by which, once, the 
French, with the Maid of Orleans at their head, drove their here- 
ditary enemy out of their land. Ah ! how often have I read 
the thrilling tale in my Schiller. Why would he (Schiller) not 

be induced to come to Berlin ? Why did he die ? 

Whom God loves here He takes unto Himself." 

The political occurrences of the years 1808-9 brought a 
full portion of suffering to the Queen ; the tone of her letters 
and diary shows that the iron had entered deep into her soul. 
On July the 9th, 1808, she writes, "I suffer unspeakably. 
Reproaches fall upon me only too often ; upon me, who like 
Atlas, bear so huge a burden of sorrow. What can I an- 
swer ? I sigh, and swallow my tears. It was a year the day 
before yesterday since I had my first interview with Napoleon ; 
a year yesterday since my last. Ah ! what a remembrance. 
How I suffered then suffered more for the sake of others than 
myself. I wept, I entreated in the name of pity, of humanity, 
in the name of our misfortunes, of the laws which govern the 
world ; and I was only a woman and yet how high exalted 
above this adversary so poor, so faint of heart ! " Again, on 
the 12th of March, 1809, two days after the fete given in 


honour of her birthday by the inhabitants of Kb'nigsberg, she 
writes to her confidential friend, Frau Von Berg : " This 
is a day in which all the world lays its sins upon me. I am ill, 
and I do not think I shall recover so long as things go thus. 
The war with Austria is about to break out, that all the world 
knows; but what you do not know, and what worries me 
to death is, that Russia, in consequence of her new alliance with 
the French, will be obliged to join in it. Consider the results 
this must have for us, that, if it really goes so far, we too must 
join this party. Prussia against Austria, what would become 
of Germany ? I cannot express what I feel, it would rend my 
heart; and here in this banishment, this climate where all 
storms rage. Oh, God ! is this trial not enough ? My birth- 
day was a fearful day for me ; in the evening there was a magni- 
ficent fete given by the inhabitants of the town in my honour, 
preceded by a banquet at the castle. Oh ! how sad it made me ; 
my heart seemed breaking. I danced, I smiled, I said 
pleasant things to the fete-givers, I was friendly to every one, 
whilst all the time I knew not which way to turn for misery. 
To whom will Prussia belong next year ? Whither shall we 
all be dispersed ? God Almighty Father ! have pity ! " 
Austria's defeat at Wagram quenched, for the time being, even 
the faint sparks of hope that lingered in Louisa's heart. She 
writes, "Alas ! oh, God ! how much trouble is gone over me ! 
Thou alone helpest. I no longer believe in an earthly future. 
God knows where I shall be buried scarcely on German 
ground. Austria sings her swan-song, and then, Ade Ger- 
mania!" A fresh misfortune was the resignation of Stein, 
towards the latter part of 1808, when, having incurred the 
displeasure of Napoleon by certain attempts to restore a spirit 
of independence amongst German Princes, his surrender was 
demanded, and it was necessary for him to leave the Prussian 
dominions.* Under these depressing circumstances, Louisa's 

* There appears also to have been some tendency to intrigue in the Court at 
this time, to displace Stein. He warned the King before he left, of the indis- 

LOUISA. 413 

only refuge was her unshaken trust in God. Her piety, always 
sincere and earnest, had now become the one principle of her 
life and actions, yet there was no ostentatious display of it ; on 
the contrary, she approached religious subjects, and expressed 
her opinions upon them, with diffidence. Yet there was an ex- 
pression of " longing and thirsting" * for holiness in her 
manner, when she did touch upon religion, that was unmis- 
takable in its sincerity. Borrowsky draws a portrait of her at 
this time of trial, the tender melancholy and softness of whose 
outline and colouring is exceedingly touching. " Gay, our dear 
Queen certainly is not in this Passions- Zeit, but her seriousness 
has a quiet cheerfulness about it, and the faith and courage 
which God gives her, spread over her whole being a sweetness 
which may be called dignified. Her eyes indeed have lost their 
early liveliness, and one sees in them that she has wept, and 
still weeps much, but they have acquired a mild expression of 
soft melancholy, and silent longing, which is better than mere 
joyousness. The bloom has vanished from her cheeks, and is 
replaced by a soft palor; yet her face is still fair, and the 
white roses there please me almost better than the earlier red 
ones. Round her mouth, where a sweet happy smile used to 
play, one now, from time to time, remarks a trembling of the 
lip, which speaks of pain, but not of bitter pain." 

Prince William, who had long been at Paris endeavouring to 
obtain a more satisfactory settlement with France, had at length 
succeeded in obtaining the actual evacuation of the country by 
the French troops (with the exception of the garrisons of the 
fortresses on the Oder). The execution of this engagement, 
therefore, began to afford the Royal family a prospect of return- 
ing to Berlin at no very distant period. In the meantime the 
Emperor Alexander, having, in passing Konigsberg on his road 
to and from the conference with Napoleon at Erfurt, made a 

creet conversations carried on in Frau von Voss's room, by means"of which many 
important state secrets had got abroad. 
* Borrowsky. 


short visit to the King and Queen of Prussia, he pressed them 
to return it at St. Petersburg. The rigour of the season and 
the expense of the journey both offered serious objections to 
the plan. The invitation was, however, ultimately accepted, and 
on the 27th December, 1808, Frederic William and Louisa set 
off for Russia. They were met by Alexander, who had pro- 
vided every accommodation for them on their passage through 
his dominions, at a short distance from St. Petersburg. Their 
stay there was marked by all kinds of hospitable attentions on 
the part of the Emperor, by whom all kinds of magnificent 
gifts * were heaped upon the Queen, with greater profusion 
than delicacy. But Louisa found a sympathizing friend in the 
Empress Elizabeth, although that Princess, from the delicacy 
of her health, was obliged to lead a very retired life. The 
untiring benevolence of the Empress Mother also struck her 
as being in a high degree worthy of imitation, and she was 
much interested in the various charitable institutions founded 
by that lady. But upon the whole, although she had been 
gratified by the kindness lavished upon her husband and her- 
self, Louisa appears to have been rather glad than otherwise to 
return to Konigsberg, at which place they arrived on the 
10th February. "I am come back as I went," said she; 
t{ nothing dazzles me now ; and once more I repeat, my king- 
dom is not of this world." 

The birth of Prince Frederic Henry, in the autumn of this 
year, left the Queen's health more delicate than usual; and 
the longing sensation of home sickness seems more forcibly 
than ever to have taken possession of her. She speaks of a 
journey to Pillau, which she was shortly about to make, if her 
health permitted it, and says, "If it were only to Berlin, 
Dahin, Dahin, mocht ich gleich ziehn !" 

This longing desire of their Queen to return amongst them, 
was enthusiastically responded to by the inhabitants of Berlin, 

* Amongst these presents, were a set of magnificent pearl and brilliant orna- 
ments, magnificent specimens of Brussels' lace, a toilet service in gold, &c. 

LOUISA. 415 

now that the restraint of the presence of the French troops 
was withdrawn ; although it must be allowed, that, with but few 
exceptions, the worthy citizens had hitherto shown the most 
politic disinclination to run any risk, by the display of a too 
fervent loyalty. But the people of Berlin never were celebrated 
for their chivalrous inclination to sacrifice ease, comfort and 
self, more especially at that time, when the effects of long peace 
and luxurious habits, had left them even unusually disinclined 
to personal inconvenience, particularly when it included personal 
risk. There were not wanting, it is true, a few honourable 
examples of self-devotion in the cause of loyalty ; yet, in no 
slight degree illustrative of the character of the citizens at that 
.time, is the fact, that Berlin left the assertion of its chivalry 
and loyalty to a priest and an actor ! * All the usual public 
rejoicings had been forbidden, by order of the French Com- 
mandant, on the Queen's birthday, 10th March, 1807 ; never- 
theless, Iffland, one of the best actors of the day, stepped forth 
that night upon the stage, holding a bouquet of flowers, which, 
first glancing significantly round upon the audience, he pressed 
to his breast, in tacit homage to her, whose cherished image was 
that day especially present to all hearts. The gesture was 
immediately understood, and thunders of applause shook the 
house. Of course, this attempt to excite the public feeling, 
could not fail to be displeasing to the French authorities, and 
Iffland was imprisoned for his devotion to his Queen. During 
Napoleon's own sojourn at Berlin, also, he permitted himself, 
upon a public occasion, to make some injurious assertion with 
regard to the Queen. Erman,f the French clergyman, then an 
old man, bluntly exclaimed, " That is false, Sire ! '' It is said, 
that the Emperor was so astonished at the boldness of this 
speech, that he allowed it to pass without notice. If there had 
been any magnanimous feeling in his mind, we might have sup- 
posed that Napoleon was actuated by admiration of the old 
man's heroic defence of his absent sovereign, that he did not 

* Forster. t Author of "M&n. pour servir a la Vie de Soph. Charlotte." 


cause him to feel the effects of his anger at having the lie given 
him in so public a manner. At all events, Erman escaped un- 
punished. But there was now no reason to prevent all the 
hitherto (from whatever motives of self-preservation and policy) 
pent-up loyalty of the citizens, from finding unrestrained ex- 
pression; consequently, the intelligence that the royal family 
was about to return to its ancestral home, was hailed with 
fervent demonstrations of delight by all. 

The King and Queen returned to their capital on the 23rd 
December, 1809, the anniversary of the day, on which, six- 
teen years before, Louisa had entered Berlin as a bride, and 
been greeted, as upon this day, by the acclamations of the 
assembled citizens. But, alas ! with what saddened feeling did 
she contrast the two occasions, so similar, yet so unlike. Then, 
youthful and untried, she had looked forward with buoyant 
hope upon the bright future which lay before her, glowing with 
the rosy hues of love and happiness. Now, she gazed back 
upon the experience of years, which had seemed fraught with 
the concentrated suffering of centuries ; and if she turned her 
eyes forward, they were only met by the gloomy mist of uncer- 
tainty which still shrouded the destinies of her country and her 
house. A short time before her return, she wrote, " So, I shall 
soon be back in Berlin, and restored to so many hearts that 
love me. I feel overpowered with joy; yet I shed many tears, 
when I think, that though I shall find all in the same place, 
all is so wholly changed, that I cannot comprehend how things 
will be there ; black forebodings trouble me." 

It was a bright winter's morning that 23rd of December. 
An elegant new carriage, lined with lilac, the Queen's favourite 
colour, had been sent as a present by the citizens to meet her 
at Weissensee.* Between ten and eleven o'clock, the thunder 
of the saluting cannon and the peal of the joy bells gave notice 
to the expectant crowds at the gates of Berlin, that the King 
and Queen were at hand. At last appeared the white banners 
* An English mile from Berlin. 

LOUISA. 417 

of the royal cortege, and then came the King on horseback, in 
his uniform, simple and dignified as ever ; and the Queen in the 
new carriage, her people's gift, her beautiful face varied by the 
play of contending feelings, as she bent forward eagerly to catch 
the earliest sight of each well-known spot, and returned with 
mingled smiles and tears the affectionate greetings that met her 
on every side. Her father, the Duke of Mecklenburg-Strelitz, 
was waiting to receive her, and give her and her children his 
blessing on their return,by this means affording her an additional 
source of happiness. Thus, surrounded by all that was dearest 
to her, Louisa re-entered the home for which she had been sigh- 
ing so long. That night at the theatre all the audience joined 
in the air of " God bless the King." Fouque says of this occa- 
sion, " At length we beheld the royal family amongst us once 
more ; it fell to my lot to be honoured with a sight of our 
angel-fair Queen. She appeared at the theatre, at the side of 
her royal husband, upon whom she several times turned her 
truly heaven-blue eyes with an unspeakably touching expression. 
Did the foreboding even then exist in her gentle soul, that she 
should not long be the comforting guide of the sorely-tried 
hero ? When, according to the custom of that time, she bowed 
graciously to the departing assembly, I for one deeply felt, that 
though I had sometimes thought we Prussians might bear our 
misfortunes more tranquilly, and turn our attention once more 
to manufacture and science, as the great Frederic had proposed 
to do, had he been defeated at Mollwitz but no, those clear, 
angelic eyes had been made too heavy with tears by means of 
Napoleon they have wept for our sake ; we must fight, and 
see them light up with joy over our victory and this is the 
expression of the common feeling/' * 

On this first appearance at the theatre the Queen sent for 
Iffland the actor, who had ventured to declare for her cause 
amidst the general pusillanimity, when the French were in pos- 
session of Berlin, to her box, and publicly thanked him for his 

* See Forster. 

E E 


loyalty, expressing at the same time her sorrow for the impri- 
sonment to which he had been subjected on her account. The 
venerable Erman received a like graceful expression of her 
thanks for his devotion to her, on another public occasion : 
when, going towards him with a filled glass, she begged him to 
pledge her, saying, "I cannot deny myself the pleasure of 
drinking to the health of the knight who, when all else were 
silent, had the courage to break a last lance for the honour of 
his Queen." 

The King was more than ordinarily cheerful after his return 
to his capital ; but it was not so with Louisa. There was now 
an air of sadness about her which had not been perceptible 
even in the time of her heaviest afflictions. The tension of the 
overstrained mental powers was relaxed, now that the need for 
present exertion was over, and a subdued melancholy took the 
place of her usual cheerfulness. She was indisposed also, with 
cough and slight attacks of spasms in the chest ; but this passed 
off as the spring advanced, and she gradually became more like 
herself in manner and appearance. This improvement was a 
source of great satisfaction to the King ; for the unwonted de- 
pression of her spirits had made him anxious and uneasy. The 
weather was unusually beautiful that spring, and once more at 
their favourite residence at Potsdam, Frederic William and 
Louisa could almost at times have imagined that they had never- 
left it, and that the intervening period of sorrow had been only 
a frightful dream. He was in good spirits, even sportively gay 
at times, and she cheerful, yielding, and affectionate as ever. 
He said to Eylert one day, in a tone of deep thankfulness, 
" The Queen has been again as cheerful as she used to be to- 
day ; I shall be very thankful if her tendency to sadness gives 
way. It cannot be otherwise now ; we shall have better days 
soon." Louisa received the Sacrament on Easter Sunday, from 
the hands of Dr. Ribbeck. " No one who saw her at that 
moment," says he, " will ever forget her. The light of sancti- 
fication seemed to flow around her ; her noble features assumed 

LOUISA. 419 

a heavenly expression ; she bore the pledge of eternal happiness 
within her heart." 

It had been a birthday promise from her husband that as 
soon as he could spare the time, they would together pay a visit 
to her father. She had wished much to go in 1806 to see her 
grandmother, the kind guardian of her early years, who was 
now too old to undertake the fatigue of a journey to Berlin ; but 
she had been prevented from putting her wish into execution. 
The visit was now fixed to take place in June. On the 24th of 
that month Louisa, accordingly, set off for Mecklenburg, whither 
her husband was to follow her shortly. Notwithstanding the 
pleasurable excitement caused by the prospect of seeing her 
friends and the home of her youth, and of renewing all her 
early associations, an unaccountable depression weighed upon 
Louisa's mind as they approached the borders of Mecklenburg ; 
but this was dissipated by the unexpected pleasure provided for 
her at Furstenburg, whither her father, her sister of Solms, 
and her two brothers had come to meet her. On seeing a 
party awaiting her arrival, she did not at first sight guess who 
they were ; but recognising her father, as he approached the 
carriage, she exclaimed, "Ah, my father ! " and flung her arms 
round his neck. At New Strelitz her aged grandmother was 
waiting on the steps of the palace to receive her. There was 
an assembly in her honour the day after her arrival. She 
missed one of her early friends from the circle, and finding, 
on inquiry, that she was unable, from ill health, to be present 
at so ceremonious a reception, she sent for her to come privately 
the next day. One of the ladies present remarked on the 
beauty of a set of pearl ornaments worn by the Queen. "Yes," 
said she, " I am fond of these ornaments ; I kept them back 
when I had to part with all my other jewels. Pearls suit me, 
they are emblematic of tears, and I have shed so many." The 
King arrived on the 28th, and now the measure of her happi- 
ness was indeed full. Having a slight cold, she had been left 
in the house with her brother, Prince George, whilst the rest 


of the party went to look at some alterations that had been 
made in the chapel. She said to her brother, " Dear George, 
now I am quite happy/' and^then seating herself at her father's 
escritoire, she wrote 

" My dear Father, 

" I am very happy to-day as your daughter, and as the wife 
of the best of husbands. 

"Neu-Strelitz, 28 June, 1810." 

These were the last words she ever wrote. On the 29th, the 
party went to the old ducal castle of Hohenzieritz ; and here 
Louisa's indisposition became more serious. She was seized 
with an attack of spasms and difficulty of breathing ; on Sun- 
day, July 1st, she was bled, the next day she was better, but 
weak and ill ; still she had never thought of deferring her 
departure with the King on that day, until Hieronymi, her 
father's medical attendant, who had been called in, said that he 
thought it would be desirable. She was very unwilling to let her 
husband go without her, but seeing that he was already very 
anxious on her account, she submitted patiently, and he left her 
the next day, promising to return as soon as possible. She 
seemed much better afterwards, though she was still confined to 
her bed, and she fainted when she was removed to her father's 
apartments (which he had given up to her as being more con- 
venient). The King himself fell ill on his return, and was 
laid up at Charlottenburg ; he sent his physician Heim, there- 
fore, to ascertain her state of health. Heim, after seeing her, 
and holding a consultation with Hieronymi, considered all 
serious cause of alarm at an end, and returned to acquaint the 
King with the good news. After this she varied considerably 
for some days ; the King's illness pressed much upon her 
mind, and she was always longing to go to him. She looked 
out for his letters eagerly, and kept them under her pillow, 
taking them out to look at now and then, and saying, "How 

LOUISA. 421 

happy I am to receive such letters/' She was very anxious 
about her children, and pleased at receiving a birthday letter 
from one of her little daughters. On the Sunday week follow- 
ing, she was very much better, and felt joyfully certain of a 
speedy recovery; but the next day, at eight o' clock in the morn- 
ing, whilst hearing the papers read (which as containing news of 
Louis Buonaparte's abdication, were then particularly interest- 
ing), she was seized with another violent fit of the spasms and 
difficulty of breathing, during which she could only gasp at in- 
tervals, " Air ! air ! " The attack lasted till one o'clock, and 
during the whole time she was in great danger. The violence of 
the spasms then abated, but left her dreadfully exhausted. She 
said, " I thought my end was near/' The King was sent for, 
but being prevented by indispensable business from setting off